Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Females and males respond more strongly to duets than to female solos: comparing the function of duet and solo singing in a tropical songbird (Icterus icterus)

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Behaviour

Both females and males of many animals possess elaborate displays, such as solo songs and duets of songbirds. We know little about the function of female song or what selects for duets. To examine their possible functions, we played female solos, duets and a heterospecific control to pairs of troupials (Icterus icterus). Both sexes responded strongly to duets by approaching the playback speaker significantly closer, faster, and more often compared to female solos or the control. Neither sex responded strongly to female solos; troupials approached closer, sang sooner, and duetted more following female solos than the control, but this difference was not significant. Our results indicate that troupial duets pose a greater threat than female solos and female troupial solos are not particularly threatening. Troupial duets may be especially threatening because they indicate the presence of a mated pair, which likely poses a greater territorial threat than lone, unmated birds.

Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA ; 2: bCornell Laboratory of Ornithology and Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Amundsen T. (2000). "Why are female birds ornamented?" — Trends Ecol. Evol. Vol 15: 149-155. [Crossref]
2. Bates D., Maechler M., Bolker B., Walker S. (2015). "Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4". — J. Stat. Softw. Vol 67: 1-48. [Crossref]
3. Benedict L. (2008). "Occurrence and life history correlates of vocal duetting in North American passerines". — J. Avian Biol. Vol 39: 57-65. [Crossref]
4. Benedict L. (2010). "California towhee vocal duets are multi-functional signals for multiple receivers". — Behaviour Vol 147: 953-978. [Crossref]
5. Bradley D.W., Mennill D.J. (2009). "Strong ungraded responses to playback of solos, duets and choruses in a cooperatively breeding Neotropical songbird". — Anim. Behav. Vol 77: 1321-1327. [Crossref]
6. Dahlin C.R., Benedict L. (2014). "Angry birds need not apply: a perspective on the flexible form and multifunctionality of avian vocal duets". — Ethology Vol 120: 1-10. [Crossref]
7. Dahlin C.R., Wright T.F. (2012). "Duet function in the yellow-naped amazon, Amazona auropalliata: evidence from playbacks of duets and solos". — Ethology Vol 118: 95-105. [Crossref]
8. Douglas S.B., Mennill D.J. (2010). "A review of acoustic playback techniques for studying avian vocal duets". — J. Field Ornithol. Vol 81: 115-129. [Crossref]
9. Dowling J., Webster M.S. (2015). "An experimental test of duet function in a fairy-wren (Malurus) with moderate cuckoldry rates". — Behav. Ecol. Vol 27: 228-236. [Crossref]
10. Fedy B.C., Stutchbury B.J. (2005). "Territory defence in tropical birds: are females as aggressive as males?" — Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. Vol 58: 414-422. [Crossref]
11. Garamszegi L.Z. (2011). "Information-theoretic approaches to statistical analysis in behavioural ecology: an introduction". — Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. Vol 65: 1-11. [Crossref]
12. Geberzahn N., Goymann W., Muck C., ten Cate C. (2009). "Females alter their song when challenged in a sex-role reversed bird species". — Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. Vol 64: 193-204. [Crossref]
13. Grafe T.U., Bitz J.H. (2004). "Functions of duetting in the tropical boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus: territorial defence and mutual mate guarding". — Anim. Behav. Vol 68: 193-201. [Crossref]
14. Griffiths R., Double M.C., Orr K., Dawson R.J. (1998). "A DNA test to sex most birds". — Mol. Ecol. Vol 7: 1071-1075. [Crossref]
15. Grimm L.G., Yarnold P.R. (1995). Reading and understanding multivariate statistics. — American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
16. Hall M.L. (2000). "The function of duetting in magpie-larks: conflict, cooperation, or commitment?" — Anim. Behav. Vol 60: 667-677. [Crossref]
17. Hall M.L. (2004). "A review of hypotheses for the functions of avian duetting". — Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. Vol 55: 415-430. [Crossref]
18. Hall M.L. (2009). "A review of vocal duetting in birds". — Adv. Stud. Behav. Vol 40: 67-121. [Crossref]
19. Illes A.E., Yunes-Jimenez L. (2009). "A female songbird out-sings male conspecifics during simulated territorial intrusions". — Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci. Vol 276: 981-986. [Crossref]
20. Jaramillo A., Burke P. (1999). New World blackbirds: the icterids. — Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
21. Krieg C.A., Getty T. (2016). "Not just for males: females use song against male and female rivals in a temperate zone songbird". — Anim. Behav. Vol 113: 39-47. [Crossref]
22. Langmore N.E. (1998). "Functions of duet and solo songs of female birds". — Trends Ecol. Evol. Vol 13: 136-140. [Crossref]
23. Lebas N.R. (2006). "Female finery is not for males". — Trends Ecol. Evol. Vol 21: 170-173. [Crossref]
24. Levin R.N. (1996). "Song behaviour and reproductive strategies in a duetting wren, Thryothorus nigricapillus: II. Playback experiments". — Anim. Behav. Vol 52: 1107-1117. [Crossref]
25. Logue D.M., Krupp D.B. (2016). "Duetting as a collective behavior". — Front. Ecol. Evol. Vol 4: 7. [Crossref]
26. Marshall-Ball L., Mann N.I., Slater P.J.B. (2006). "Multiple functions to duet singing: hidden conflicts and apparent cooperation". — Anim. Behav. Vol 71: 823-831. [Crossref]
27. Mennill D.J. (2006). "Aggressive responses of male and female rufous-and-white wrens to stereo duet playback". — Anim. Behav. Vol 71: 219-226. [Crossref]
28. Molles L.E., Waas J.R. (2006). "Are two heads better than one? Responses of the duetting kokako to one- and two-speaker playback". — Anim. Behav. Vol 72: 131-138. [Crossref]
29. Odom K.J. (2016). Investigating female songs and duets in songbirds (oscine passerines) at three evolutionary scales: phylogenetic reconstruction, comparative methods, and field studies. — University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD.
30. Odom K.J., Hall M.L., Riebel K., Omland K.E., Langmore N.E. (2014). "Female song is widespread and ancestral in songbirds". — Nature Commun. Vol 5: 3379. [Crossref]
31. Odom K.J., Omland K.E., Price J.J. (2015). "Differentiating the evolution of female song and male–female duets in the New World blackbirds: can tropical natural history traits explain duet evolution?" — Evolution Vol 69: 839-847. [Crossref]
32. Odom K.J., Omland K.E., McCaffrey D.R., Monroe M.K., Christhilf J.L., Roberts N.S., Logue D.M. (2016). "Typical males and unconventional females: songs and singing behaviors of a tropical, duetting oriole in the breeding and non-breeding season". — Front. Ecol. Evol. Vol 4: 14. [Crossref]
33. Odom K.J., Logue D.M., Studds C.E., Monroe M.K., Campbell S.K., Omland K.E. (2017). "Duetting behavior varies with sex, season, and singing role in a tropical oriole (Icterus icterus)". — Behav. Ecol. Vol 28: 1256-1265. [Crossref]
34. R Core Team (2015). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. — R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. Available online at
35. Riebel K., Hall M.L., Langmore N.E. (2005). "Female songbirds still struggling to be heard". — Trends Ecol. Evol. Vol 20: 419-420. [Crossref]
36. Rogers A.C., Mulder R.A., Langmore N.E. (2006). "Duet duels: sex differences in song matching in duetting eastern whipbirds". — Anim. Behav. Vol 72: 53-61. [Crossref]
37. Rogers A.C., Ferguson J.E., Harrington H.M., Mcdowell S., Miller A., Panagos J. (2004). "Use of stereo duet playback to investigate traditional duet playback methods and mechanisms of cooperative territorial defence in magpie-larks". — Behaviour Vol 141: 741-753. [Crossref]
38. Rogers A.C., Langmore N.E., Mulder R.A. (2007). "Function of pair duets in the eastern whipbird: cooperative defense or sexual conflict?" — Behav. Ecol. Vol 18: 182-188. [Crossref]
39. Rosvall K.A. (2011). "Intrasexual competition in females: evidence for sexual selection?" — Behav. Ecol. Vol 22: 1131-1140. [Crossref]
40. Seddon N., Tobias J.A. (2006). "Duets defend mates in a suboscine passerine, the warbling antbird (Hypocnemis cantator)". — Behav. Ecol. Vol 17: 73-83. [Crossref]
41. Slater P.J.B., Mann N.I. (2004). "Why do the females of many bird species sing in the tropics?" — J. Avian Biol. Vol 35: 289-294. [Crossref]
42. Sonnenschein E., Reyer H.U. (1983). "Mate-guarding and other functions of antiphonal duets in the slate-coloured boubou (Laniarius funebris)". — Z. Tierpsychol. Vol 63: 112-140. [Crossref]
43. Templeton C.N., Rivera-Caceres K.D., Mann N.I., Slater P.J.B. (2011). "Song duets function primarily as cooperative displays in pairs of happy wrens". — Anim. Behav. Vol 82: 1399-1407. [Crossref]
44. Tobias J.A., Montgomerie R., Lyon B.E. (2012). "The evolution of female ornaments and weaponry: social selection, sexual selection and ecological competition". — Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci. Vol 367: 2274-2293. [Crossref]
45. Zuur A.F., Ieno E.N., Elphick C.S. (2010). "A protocol for data exploration to avoid common statistical problems". — Methods Ecol. Evol. Vol 1: 3-14. [Crossref]

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Behaviour — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation