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By Robert R. Capranica (auth.), Jörg-Peter Ewert, Robert R. Capranica, David J. Ingle (eds.)

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Extra resources for Advances in Vertebrate Neuroethology

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Insofar as subsong might involve rehearsal of specific song themes, it could be viewed as bridging the gap between the perceptual and the sensorimotor stages of vocal development. Detailed study of swamp sparrow subsong has shown, however, that although it begins early, it remains amorphous and unstructured until as late as 8 months of life. Only after this do we find the first identifiable song syllables. These become perfected over a period of about a month, in the transition from what is called plastic song to full song.

The song of a swamp sparrow reared in isolation with its hearing intact is very different both from that of a deaf male and from that which a song sparrow develops under similar circumstances. From a musical point of view, both are more impressive performances than those of deaf birds. Hearing birds can produce a greater degree of species-specificity, and also can exert much more control over the shape of the individual syllables and the regularity and precision with which they are reproduced. Nevertheless, there are persistent differences between the innate and normal song.

The notes are arranged in repeatable clusters or "syllables", 30-40 per song. A male's songs consist of syntactical rearrangements of a total repertoire of about 100 syllable types. There is extensive sharing of syllable types within a population. E. Kroodsma (1981). 2. Winter wren song. of the syllable, a unit less than a whole but larger than the minimal elements or notes. If correct, this has the important implication of a capacity for phonological syntax, much as we recombine phonemes or syllables to make different words.

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