Sound-pressure Levels and Song Preferences in Female Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) (Aves, Emberizidae)


  • William A. Searcy

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    1. Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables
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      Searcy, W. A. 1996: Sound-pressure levels and song preferences in female red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) (Aves, Emberizidae). Ethology 102, 187–196.

Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA.


Female red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were tested for response to songs of male red-winged blackbirds differing in sound-pressure level (SPL) of playback. Subjects gave significantly more copulation-solicitation displays in response to playback of songs at 85 dB SPL than to playback of the same songs at 72 dB SPL. The strength of the preference, as judged by the ratio of response to high and low SPL playback (1.15:1), was lower than that of preferences for high SPL shown by insects and anurans. Female red-winged blackbirds responded preferentially to a conspecific song relative to a heterospecific imitation, even when the imitation was presented at an SPL 13 dB higher than that of the conspecific song. By contrast, female redwings did not maintain a preference for multiple conspecific song types over single types when the single song types were presented at the higher SPL. These results are compatible with Klump & Gerhardt's (1987) suggestion that the intensity independence of female preferences varies with the relative benefit females obtain from each preference.