Birdsong Development

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•  The role of inheritance and learning in the development of birdsong

The development of birdsongs in fledglings is an example of an action that involves both innate and learned behaviours

  • Birds will use songs as a means of communication – either signalling courtship or establishing territorial boundaries

Most birds are born with a crude template song that is genetically inherited (innate behaviour)

  • The possession of an innate template prevents birds from adopting the songs of a different species of bird

Whilst young, fledglings learn to expand and refine their song by listening to, and mimicking, the adult version (motor learning)

  • Birds raised in isolation will lack the necessary song complexity that develops through social interaction

The time taken to develop a birdsong differs between species and songs, but once established, the final song is rarely altered

Stages in the Development of Birdsong