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The Spoonbill, Vol. 38, No. 10, October 1989
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The Spoonbill, Vol. 38, No. 10, October 1989 - Image 3. October 1989. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 22, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1072/show/1064.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(October 1989). The Spoonbill, Vol. 38, No. 10, October 1989 - Image 3. Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1072/show/1064

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

The Spoonbill, Vol. 38, No. 10, October 1989 - Image 3, October 1989, Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 22, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1072/show/1064.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title The Spoonbill, Vol. 38, No. 10, October 1989
Alternative Title The Spoonbill, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 10, October 1989
Contributor (Local)
  • Price, Libby
Publisher Outdoor Nature Club
Date October 1989
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Ornithology
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • newsletters
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
Original Item Location ID 2007-023, Box 12, Folder 5
ArchivesSpace URI /repositories/2/archival_objects/9874
Original Collection Outdoor Nature Club Records
Digital Collection Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://libraries.uh.edu/branches/special-collections/
Use and Reproduction In Copyright
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Image 3
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name uhlib_2007_023_b012_f005_009_003.jpg
Transcript MOCKINGBIRD SONG AIMED AT MATES, NOT RIVALS — An opportunity to monitor closely the singing behavior of mockingbirds produced a result that was entirely unexpected [From Science, 236, pp 1521-22, Je 19 '87] Mockingbirds can • be pretty cheeky creatures. And noisy too. But to Randall . Breitwisch and George Whitesides of the University of Miami, these two sometimes annoying habits of mockingbirds . presented an opportunity. During the spring of 1985 the researchers were able to monitor closely the birds' singing behavior right on the university campus. And what they found was a big surprise. "The birds appeared to spend a great deal of their time directing their song irito their territories rather than out of them," says Breitwisch. "And that is important, because it tells you something about the function of their song." Bird song traditionally has been interpreted principally as a territorial warning from one male to another. "The idea of a 'keep-out signal' is very popular among biologists," says Breitwisch, "and very often it must operate that way. But not always." ■ The discovery that male mockingbirds spend a lot of time singing into their territories rather than broadcasting out of them from the edges implies that in this case at least, it is probably not true. "This was an unexpected finding," acknowledges Gene Morton of the National Zoological Park in Washington. "The interesting question now is, how common is this?" When Breitwisch, who is now at the University of Pennsylvania, first observed this pattern he looked into the literature and was surprised to find that no one else had even looked at the question of directionality of singing. Position of the singer within the territory, yes. But not direction of the singing. The problem most observers face in trying to get data on this is simply being able to be close enough to the birds to make reliable and repeated obervation of the position of the beak during singing. The relatively habituated mockingbirds of the University of Miami campus offered that opportunity. "Finding out how general a phenomenon this is will therefore be difficult," says Breitwisch. The northern mockingbird is, of course, famous for its extensive repertoire and its mimickry [sic], both of which properties make it more likely that the function of the song is male-female attraction. The starting point for the Miami project was simple: if the function 'of the song were indeed to attract a mate for the male rather than to ward off rival males, then a comparison of the singing behavior of the mated and unmated males should be different and revealing. It turns out that, although mated and unmated males both direct a lot of their song into rather than out of their territories, unmated males sing more than mated males. They are also more active, flying from perch to perch so as to deliver their song from more different positions. However, mated males chased intruders from their territory more often than unmarried males. And, significantly, says Breitwisch, the males are usually silent when they are on these chase and expel ■ missions.. "If. the function of song really were territorial," he says, "you might expect it to accompany these episodes." As well as singing more than mated males, males who are still looking for a female also vary the direction of their song more. "If song were a form of male-male communication (that is, a keep- out signal)," note Breitwisch and Whitesides, "there would be no reason to expect unmated birds to display a greater variability in the direction of singing within bouts than mated birds." But if the song were a broadcast to potential mates in the vicinity, but who might not be visible to the singing male, then the bird might be expected to cast its vocal net as wide as possible. "This is what they appeared to do." Although unmated males were apparently casting their voices around in an attempt to snare a mate, sometimes they appeared to focus quite intently in one direction. "This observation suggests that events on adjacent or nearby territories may stimulate unmated males to sing in the direction of those territories," note Breitwisch and Whitesides. For instance, they might be attempting to exploit an opportunity to mate with a neighboring female. That opportunity might be signaled by the singing behavior of the neighboring male, say the two researchers. "Unmated males could monitor the nesting stage for neighboring pairs and direct song at neighboring females at the most opportune time for luring those females away from their mates," suggest Breitwisch and Whitesides. Roger Lewin NEW AUDUBON CALENDARS ARE OUT The photographers among us as well as those who just love to look at beautiful nature photographs will be hard put to choose among the new Audubon calendars, and will certainly be interested in the engagement calendar. With every photograph you are told not only the subject, location and. photographer's name, but also the type of camera, film, speed and aperture information. There is, of course, the Wild Bird Calendar in addition to the Nature, Sea Life and Wild Animal calendars, all published by MacMillan and available at The Chickadee and area bookstores.