Male zebra finches can learn male-typical vocalizations from hormone- treated female tutors

H. Blair Simpson, David S. Vicario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Male zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, produce two learned vocalizations: song and 'long' (or 'distance') calls. Females do not sing and their long calls are not learned. Males learn their vocalizations during development by imitating the vocalizations of adult males, and do not typically imitate the vocalizations of females. The goal of this study was to examine the rules governing tutor choice that ensure that young males learn only the vocalizations of males. Two singing males were each paired with a female that had been treated with oestradiol during development so that the female sang and produced male-typical long calls in adulthood. Each pair was given successive cohorts of foster chicks to raise. In adulthood, the vocalizations of the foster sons were recorded and compared with those of their foster parents. Foster sons copied the song of one foster parent only. They were as likely to copy from their female as from their male parent. No association was seen between the choice of song and long-call tutors. These results show that adult females that produce male-typical vocalizations can be equally good vocal tutors as males, and that young males can independently choose their song tutor and long-call tutor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1127
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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