Call mimicry by eastern towhees and its significance in relation to auditory learning

  • Authors: Greenlaw, Jon S.; Shackelford, Clifford E.; Brown, Raymond E.
  • Publication Year: 1998
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Wilson Bulletin. 110(3): 431-434.

Abstract

The authors document cases of eastern towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) using mimicked alarm calls from three presumptive models (blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), and American robin (Turdus migratorius)). In four instances, male towhees employed heterospecific calls without substitution in their own call repertoires. Three birds (New Jersey, New York) used jay-like calls mixed with "Chewink" calls in the same bouts of calling. One bird (New York) increased the frequency of its mimicked call during intense reactions to disturbance (high rate of calling). A Texas towhee employed jay-like and Chewink calls separately in different contexts. In another case, sequences of robin-like alarm calls were used by a towhee to form unusual, distinctive song-types during bouts of singing. These observations suggest that some aspects of towhee alarm call repertoires may be influenced by auditory learning, and that mimicked alarm calls also can be incorporated into song repertoires.

  • Citation: Greenlaw, Jon S.; Shackelford, Clifford E.; Brown, Raymond E. 1998. Call mimicry by eastern towhees and its significance in relation to auditory learning. Wilson Bulletin. 110(3): 431-434.
  • Posted Date: April 1, 1980
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.