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Seasonal patterns of nocturnal singing by ovenbirds and white-throated sparrows

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Recent research suggests that many diurnal songbirds also sing at night. The functions of nocturnal singing by diurnally active birds are not well understood. We used automated recorders to record nocturnal singing from May through July 2014. We examined how date, temperature, wind, weather, and lunar phase influenced nocturnal vocal behaviour. We found that nocturnal singing by ovenbirds and white-throated sparrows was related to date with clear seasonal patterns that did not mirror the dawn chorus. Nocturnal singing rates declined seasonally, but peaked earlier for white-throated sparrows than for ovenbirds. Both species sang less often on nights with a full moon or precipitation. Ovenbirds also sang fewer songs on cold and windy nights while white-throated sparrows sang less often on cloudy nights. We show that nocturnal song is shaped by environmental factors and shows a seasonal pattern that may be useful for gaining insights into functions of nocturnal song.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Algoma University, Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada P6A 2G4

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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