Zebra finch on a tree branch (Image by Kilayla Pillon via Flickr)

Zebra finch on a tree branch (Image by Kilayla Pilon via Flickr)

During courtship, male zebra finches perform a longer and faster version of their usual songs in order to attract females—who, in turn, prefer the modified song during their search for a mate. Researchers investigated whether that preference in female zebra finches relied on being exposed to male birds’ songs early in life. It turns out that the differentiation between versions of the song, and the preference for the modified, high-performance courtship song, presupposes that the female zebra finch has heard male songs in her lifetime. Those females who have not been around adult males growing up did not exhibit the same preference for the courtship song. Additionally, auditory responses to courtship and non-courtship song were different in adult females raised without song exposure.


Yining Chen, Oliver Clark, Sarah C. Woolley

Corresponding author:

Sarah Woolley, Department of Biology, Neuroscience, McGill University, Email: sarah.woolley@mcgill.ca

Original paper published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B on May 24, 2017.