Two novel vocalizations are used by veeries (catharus fuscescens) during agonistic interactions

Kara L. Belinsky, Claire E. Nemes, Kenneth A. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Avian vocalizations are common examples of the complex signals used by animals to negotiate during agonistic interactions. In this study, we used two playback experiments to identify agonistic signals in a songbird species with several acoustically complex songs and calls, the veery. In the first experiment, we compared veery singing behavior in response to simulated territorial intrusions including playback of three variations of veery song: 1) song alone as a control, 2) songs with added whisper calls, and 3) songs with introductory notes removed. In the second experiment, we used multimodal stimuli including songs, whisper calls and songs with introductory notes removed, along with a robotic veery mount. Focal males readily responded to all of the playback stimuli, approached the speaker and/or robotic mount, and vocalized. Male veeries gave more whisper calls, and sang more songs without the introductory note in response to all types of playback. However, veeries responded similarly to all types of stimuli presented, and they failed to physically attack the robotic mount. These results indicate that rival veeries use two different types of novel vocalizations: whisper calls and songs lacking the introductory note as agonistic signals, but do not allow us to discern the specific functions of these two vocalizations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0120933
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 23 2015


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