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Female birds sing, too, but do they go unheard?

Cara J

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Do female birds need a feminist movement? A pair of researchers is suggesting that scientists tend to tune in to male birdsongs and overlook female songs, leaving an important aspect of birds’ life history out of ornithological research. In a commentary published in The Auk: Ornithology Advances, the researchers argue that understanding and keeping track of these understudied female songs can advance bird biology and fill in gaps in our understanding of bird behavior. In 2014, lead author Karan Odom, with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, wrote a paper in Nature Communications, quantifying female songs across bird families. She found that 71 percent of the females she studied sang. Another study looking at songbirds found 64 percent of all songbirds have evidence of female songs. “That awakened us, and the research community, to a bigger phenomenon than we thought there was in the past,” said Odom, who coauthored the paper with Lauryn Benedict, at the University of Northern Colorado. After discovering that the female ancestors of all songbirds also likely sang, Odom came to believe that, because female singing can differ between temperate and tropical regions, research has likely been skewed by geographic bias. “A lot of research has been [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/female-birds-sing-too-but-do-they-go-unheard/

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