Temporal and sequential organization of song bouts in the Starling

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Science Article 12


Temporal analysis of Starling song revealed that males sing very long and complex song bouts, some extending over one minute and containing over ninety song bouts. Starlings sing with immediate variety. There are clear differences in average bout length and in singing rate between males. Starling song bouts have a characteristic sequential organisation which might be an important species-specific feature. Bouts are composed of four categories of song types. A bout typically begins with one or several whistles. These whistles are always followed by a large number of variable song types which, in their turn, gradually pass into rattle song types. A bout usually ends with a series of high-frequency song types. A detailed sequential analysis of one bird showed that the Starling is a highly determinate singer. Repertoire size ranged from 43 to 48 song types. Starling song is more variable and versatile at the start of a bout than at the end. Although the primary function of the song seems to attract a female, it is suggested that different song types have different functions.

Eens M., Pinxten R. & Verheyen R.F., ARDEA 77 (1): 75-86

Download article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *