Vocal mate recognition in male red winged blackbirds agelaius phoeniceus

Beletsky, L.D.

Behaviour 84(1-2): 124-134


ISSN/ISBN: 0005-7959
DOI: 10.2307/4534238
Accession: 006910352

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In an attempt to determine if mates recognize each other as individuls in avian species employing polygamous mating systems, 20 territorial male red-winged blackbirds (A. phoeniceus) were exposed to playback songs of stranger females and to songs recorded from 1 of their own mates. The 2 playback presentations to each male were separated by 24 or 48 h. Response behaviors of the males (recorded as each experiment was in progress) included loudspeaker approach, song rate and after-song display (a display known to be sexual in nature) among others. It was assumed that if the males provided differential behavioral responses to the 2 playback presentations, some degree of vocal mate recognition would be occurring. Matched-pairs comparison of response behavior rates showed a significant difference between male response to mate and to non-mate song. Several factors present in the study make this result only tentative. Males in the present study had 1 to 5 females residing on their territories, and, if vocal mate recognition occurs, the males would ostensibly have to learn the songs of their multiple mates.