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Male Song Complexity and Parental Care in the European Starling

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Female European starlings prefer to mate with males that have large song repertoires, and those males will, on average, be older birds. We tested the hypothesis that female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) that choose males with large song phrase repertoires benefit by obtaining more experienced mates that will provide better parental care. Contrary to the hypothesis, males with large repertoires did not spend more time incubating nor did they make more feeding trips to the nestlings than did males with small repertoires. After controlling for the effects of brood size and age on feeding rates, there was no correlation between the nestling feeding rates of males and females. The possibility that the benefit of mating with large repertoire males is that these males are of higher genetic quality is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Avenue Docteur Penfield, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 1B1

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