Apparent Correlation Between Whipbird Singing Skills and Mating Success

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Apparent Correlation Between Whipbird Singing Skills and Mating Success
From: Vicki Powys <>
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 15:05:08 +1100
on 6/11/01 7:42 PM, Laurie & Leanne Knight at  quoted an

> The aptly named Taronga Zoo keeper and amateur musician [Mr. Bird] is
optimistic he
> can help bring endangered birds back from the edge of extinction by
> teaching them to sing better.

> "The better a bird sings, the more receptive its mate will be," Mr Bird
> said yesterday. "The birds that breed the most have a greater vocal
> repertoire."

Superb Lyrebird males sing better when they have plenty to eat.  The most
successful lyrebird males hold the best foraging territories, and hold off
rival males to retain that territory.  The fact that a particular male sings
more indicates to the female that he doesn't need to spend the whole day
searching for food.  So the female thinks "aha! a good singer!  He must have
plenty to eat!  That might be a good spot for me to build my nest and raise
my young!" 

Males that hold territories with leaner pickings are kept busier foraging
for themselves, and have less time to sing.  In some marginal lyrebird
habitats, the males actually sing very little.  So perhaps, even in a
captive situation, some bird species might respond to good singers,
instinctively linking that to a stronger male and a better foraging

Vicki Powys

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