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Song Learning in Adult Great Tits (Parus Major): Effects of Neighbours

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The songs of individually marked male great tits in a nestbox population were recorded over 10 years. The number of songs sung by an individual (repertoire size) did not change with the age of the bird. However, the song types making up the repertoire (repertoire composition) showed change; such changes were the rule in our study. The songs added to repertoires were most similar to those of newly arrived neighbours, suggesting that songs were learned from them. This result suggests that the period for song learning to sing can extend throughout adult life in this species and is comparable in timing to the timing of song learning for discrimination tasks such as neighbour recognition and laboratory operant conditioning. The functional significance of this pattern of song learning is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, England


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