SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Life history theory predicts that females should vary their investment in offspring according to the quality of their mate. In birds, several studies have now shown that females do vary investment according to perceived male quality, by producing larger eggs, investing more in parental care or by manipulating the sex of their offspring. In a captive breeding colony of canaries, we first show that under normal conditions larger eggs in a clutch are more likely to hatch male offspring. In canaries, male song functions in female attraction and females respond more to complex structures in male song called sexy syllables. In a series of experiments, we go on to show first, that females exposed to playback of male song produce larger eggs than those who heard no song. Next, using synthetic songs, we show that females exposed to playback of more attractive songs containing sexy syllables, produced larger eggs than those exposed to simpler songs containing no sexy syllables. However, in a final analysis, we found no evidence from our experiments that females exposed to playback of more attractive songs also produced more male offspring.