Selective Vocal Learning in a Sparrow

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Science  04 Nov 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4316, pp. 519-521
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4316.519


Male swamp sparrows learn their songs; they fail to learn songs of the sympatric song sparrow. Syllables from tape recordings of both species of sparrow were spliced into an array of swamp sparrow-like and song sparrow-like temporal patterns. Swamp sparrows learned only those songs made of swamp sparrow syllables. They did so irrespective of whether the temporal pattern was swamp sparrow-like or song sparrow-like. Selectivity was retained by birds reared in total isolation from adult conspecific sounds.

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