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A Test of the Competition Hypothesis of Vocal Mimicry, Using Song Sparrow Imitation of White-Crowned Sparrow Song

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A series of experiments were carried out to determine whether territorial male white-crowned sparrows could discriminate between playback of their own species song (the model) and the same song produced by a song sparrow (the mimic). Males responded strongly to both songs, and there were no significant differences in response measures between model and mimic. In contrast, most males showed no response to control song sparrow song, although two individuals showed clear interspecific responses. The results are discussed in relation to the competition hypothesis of vocal mimicry, which requires both deception of the model by the mimic and some evidence of interspecific aggression.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


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