The variation in song rate during the breeding season was studied in two individually marked chaffinch Fringilla coelebs populations. We gathered data to investigate especially the recently presented mate-guarding hypothesis. The active singing has been supposed to function as a form of mate guarding during the female's fertile period by announcing the high status of the male and preventing extra-pair copulations by neighbouring males.
There was no clear dawn chorus in the chaffinch, i.e. a peak in the song rate before sunrise. Male chaffinches continued to sing after mating, but the song rate dropped significantly. In contrast to the mate-guarding hypothesis the song rate was lower during the fertile period of the female than during pre-mating and incubation. Thus, the males do not announce the fertility status of their mates or their own quality and status by active singing. The song does not function as a form of mate guarding in the chaffinch.
One function of the song of the chaffinch is mate attraction: singing activity was highest before pair formation in early spring and decreased after mating but increased again if the male lost his mate later in the breeding season.