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How birds use environmental cues to time breeding, migration and molt has been the subject of intensive study for nearly 90 years. Most work has focused on seasonal breeders; opportunistic breeders have been presumed to differ fundamentally from seasonal taxa in ways that facilitate coping with unpredictable environments. Understanding patterns and(More)
Male songbirds often establish territories and attract mates by singing, and some song features can reflect the singer's condition or quality. The quality of the song environment can change, so male songbirds should benefit from assessing the competitiveness of the song environment and appropriately adjusting their own singing behavior and the neural(More)
Cognition presents evolutionary research with one of its greatest challenges. Cognitive evolution has been explained at the proximate level by shifts in absolute and relative brain volume and at the ultimate level by differences in social and dietary complexity. However, no study has integrated the experimental and phylogenetic approach at the scale(More)
Sexually reproducing organisms should mate with the highest quality individuals that they can. When female songbirds choose a mate, they are thought to use several aspects of male song that reflect his quality. Under resource-limited environmental conditions, male Lincoln’s sparrows (Melospiza lincolnii) vary among one another in several aspects of song(More)
Bird song is hypothesized to be a reliable indicator of cognition because it depends on brain structure and function. Song features have been found to correlate positively with measures of cognition, but the relationship between song and cognition is complicated because not all cognitive abilities are themselves positively correlated. If cognition is not a(More)
Mate attraction can be costly. Thus, individuals should modulate it according to its probable benefits. Specifically, individuals should modulate mate-attraction efforts based on their need for, the probability of attracting, and the reproductive competence of prospective mates. We tested these predictions by monitoring song output in laboratory-housed male(More)
Cognition and communication both can be essential for effectively navigating the social environment and thus, social dynamics could select for enhanced abilities for communication and superior cognition. Additionally, social experience can influence both the ability to communicate effectively and performance in cognitive tasks within an individual's(More)
Although plasticity in signal production is well recognized as a means for animals to modify their communication systems, modifying responsiveness to signals could be equally important. We examined plasticity of responsiveness to social signals that mediate group formation and cohesion in red crossbills. The red crossbill is composed of several ecologically(More)
Urban birds often more vigorously defend their territories during simulated intrusions than do their rural counterparts, but the factors responsible remain unclear. To address this issue, we investigated whether the disparity in territorial aggression of urban and rural male song sparrows, Melospiza melodia, is individually consistent within a breeding(More)
Male animals often change their behavior in response to the level of competition for mates. Male Lincoln's sparrows (Melospiza lincolnii) modulate their competitive singing over the period of a week as a function of the level of challenge associated with competitors' songs. Differences in song challenge and associated shifts in competitive state should be(More)