Juvenile song learning in regent honeyeaters, Anthochaera phrygia, at Taronga Zoo, Australia
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 01:00 by Michelle Vecsei
Songbirds show tremendous variation in when, how and from whom they learn their songs. Song learning may involve directly imitating another bird, known as a tutor, or may involve the recombination of song elements from multiple tutors. This study investigated song learning in a captive population of a critically endangered bird, the regent honeyeater, Anthochaera phrygia, at Taronga Zoo, NSW. The aim of this study was to add to the limited body of knowledge of song learning within the honeyeater family and provide valuable information that may assist with the regent honeyeater recovery program. Twenty-nine related and unrelated birds were recorded and the most common song types were selected for song similarity analysis. Song similarity was assessed using dynamic time warping followed by cluster analysis to determine which birds produced similar song types. The results revealed wide variation in tutor selection by juveniles, with78% singing similar songs to multiple tutors. Song types produced included songs from tutors with which the juveniles had direct social interaction, as well as ones in which they were only able to hear. This suggests that social experience is important but not essential for song learning in this species. This study is the first to investigate song learning in regent honeyeaters.