Males of many songbird species have peaks of singing activity at dawn and dusk. Singing during those twilight periods can function in territory proclamation, and males are suggested to adjust song output to the level of intruder pressure. We used song playback during the breeding season to simulate intrusions into territories of male Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) shortly after dawn. We then compared male singing behaviour during the dawn and dusk chorus before and 1 day after the simulated intrusion. One day after the playback, male Wrens increased their song output before sunrise, which confirms our results from a previous study on dawn singing in autumn territories. At dusk, on the evening following the playback, males slightly increased song output after sunset, but singing activity at dusk was generally very low. We found no significant changes of song output after sunrise, before sunset, and between 2 days of control without playback. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that dawn and dusk singing is important for territory defence in spring. Unlike in autumn, however, increased singing in spring at dawn and dusk could also serve to defend other resources such as fertile mates or to strengthen the pair bond after a territorial challenge. In comparison with the results on autumnal singing, male Wrens started singing earlier at dawn during the breeding season, and they generally sang more songs at dawn and immediately after playback. The increase in absolute numbers of songs sung in the morning after playback seemed greater in spring than in autumn; however, the proportional increase relative to overall song output was similar in both seasons.
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For helpful comments and discussions, we thank David Basler, Fleur Daugey, Dieter Ebert, Heinrich Erne, Pius Korner, Fraenzi Korner-Nievergelt, Hansjoerg Kunc, Martin Lutsch, Marc Naguib and Rouven Schmidt. The research was funded by the Swiss Association Pro Petite Camargue Alsacienne and the Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft Basel. Our experiments comply with the current laws of France.
Communicated by F. Bairlein.
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Erne, N., Amrhein, V. Long-term influence of simulated territorial intrusions on dawn and dusk singing in the Winter Wren: spring versus autumn. J Ornithol 149, 479–486 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-008-0288-8
- Dawn chorus
- Dusk chorus
- Bird song
- Song playback
- Territory defence