Superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) sons and daughters acquire song elements of mothers and social fathers

Christine Evans, Sonia Kleindorfer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Birdsong is regarded as a classic example of a sexually-selected trait and has been primarily studied in systems with male song. Complex solo female song is emerging from the shadows of overlooked phenomena. In males, rearing conditions affect male song complexity, and males with complex songs are often more successful at mate attraction and territorial defense. Little is known about the ontogeny or function of complex female song. Here we examine song elements in fledgling superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) in relation to the song elements of adult tutors. Male and female superb fairy-wrens produce solo song year-round to defend a territory. We ask if sons and daughters acquire song elements from sex-specific vocal tutors. We found that sons and daughters produced the song elements of their mothers and social fathers, and that sons and daughters had comparable song element repertoires at age 7-10 weeks. We conclude that sons and daughters increase their song element repertoire when vocally imitating elements from several vocal tutors, and that both sexes acquire elements from male and female vocal tutors in this system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number9
    Pages (from-to)Art: 9
    Number of pages10
    Issue numberFEB
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


    • Birdsong
    • Female song
    • Maluridae
    • Song element repertoire
    • Superb fairy-wren
    • Vocal learning
    • Vocal tutors


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