Interspecific Response to Playback of Bird Song


  • Anders Pape Møller

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, Uppsala University, Uppsala
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      Møller, A. P. 1992: Interspecific response to playback of bird song. Ethology 90, 315–320.

A. P. Møller, Department of Zoology, Uppsala University, Box 561, S-751 22 Uppsala.


Responses to bird song have usually only been studied at the intraspecific level. I experimentally tested whether playback of the song of the black wheatear Oenanthe leucura in an area in S Spain resulted in responses from conspecifics as well as heterospecific birds by comparing the numbers of individuals singing before and after playback. The number of singing male black wheatears increased considerably, but also the number of singing males of five other passerine species increased significantly. The heterospecific response to playback may be due (1) to interspecific territoriality, (2) to black wheatear song signalling the absence of predators, or (3) to heterospecifics confusing the species-identity of the singer. The second alternative is considered more likely, since an ecologically wide array of species increased their song rate following playback. The conspicuous dawn (and dusk) chorus of bird song may be augmented by social facilitation due to the singing of conspecifics as well as heterospecifics.