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Does the "Teer" Vocalization Deter Prospecting Female Red-Winged Blackbirds? A Speaker-Occupation Experiment

Ken Yasukawa
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 26, No. 6 (1990), pp. 421-426
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4600431
Page Count: 6
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Does the "Teer" Vocalization Deter Prospecting Female Red-Winged Blackbirds? A Speaker-Occupation Experiment
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Abstract

A speaker-occupation experiment was conducted to determine whether female red-winged black-birds (Agelaius phoeniceus) use the aggressive "Teer" vocalization to deter conspecific females that are prospecting for opportunities to settle. In each of 14 trials conducted during the breeding seasons of 1987, 1988, and 1989, tape recordings and a pair of loud speakers were used to "defend" suitable habitat. Observations of female red-winged blackbirds settling on these "speaker territories" and on adjacent control areas showed that speaker territories were settled significantly earlier than silent control territories. Each of the 14 first settlers on speaker territories included at least one speaker location within the bird's display area, and 9 of the 14 included both speaker locations. Additional observations showed that the rate at which prospecting females visited control and speaker territories, and the number of females eventually settling on them, were not significantly different. Finally, females that settled on speaker territories sang Teers at significantly higher rates than those on control territories. These results demonstrate that the Teer alone was not sufficient to deter prospecting female red-winged blackbirds. On the contrary, Teers given in the absence of an actual resident may have attracted settlers. It is suggested that the aggressive Teer vocalization might function to establish dominance relationships among the females sharing a polygynous male's territory.

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