A role of her own: female cowbirds, Molothrus ater, influence thedevelopment and outcome of song learning

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Science Article 3


Previous work has shown that captive female cowbirds, Molothrus ater, can influence the outcome of malesong development by affecting retention or deletion of song elements and by stimulating improvization.Here we looked for evidence of female influence during the process of learning, as males progress fromsubsong to plastic song to stereotyped song. In a longitudinal study, we measured the rate and timing ofvocal development in captive, juvenile male brown-headed cowbirds, M. a. artemisiae. Half the youngmales were housed with female cowbirds from their own population (South Dakota: SD) and half withfemale cowbirds from a M. a. ater population (Indiana: IN).

V. ANNE SMITH et al., ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 2000, 60, 599-609

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