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Song preferences in female nightingales

Konstanze Kallabis, Diploma Student.

One function of bird song is known to be attraction of females. The characteristics of the song of male nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) have been investigated for a long time, whereas little is known about song preferences of female nightingales. In my diploma thesis I investigate whether female nightingales show a preference for songs they have heard when they were young over unknown song types or vice versa.

Twelve hand-reared females experienced tutoring of species-specific song as fledglings. Now, in their first breeding season, they will be exposed to known and unknown song types in an operant conditioning task. By hopping on an experimental perch the birds are able to trigger the playback themselves, which gives reference to their preferences.