Long-term influence of simulated territorial intrusions on dawn and dusk singing in the Winter Wren: spring versus autumn

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Amrhein V, Erne N (2006) Dawn singing reflects past territorial challenges in the winter wren. Anim Behav 71:1075–1080

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Amrhein V, Kunc HP, Naguib M (2004) Non-territorial nightingales prospect territories during the dawn chorus. Proc R Soc Lond B (Suppl) 271:S167–S169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Armstrong EA (1955) The wren. Collins, London

    Google Scholar 

  4. Armstrong EA (1956) Territory in the wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Ibis 98:430–437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Armstrong EA (1977) Behavioural adaptions of the wren. Biol Rev 52:235–294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Cramp S (ed) (1988) The birds of the western palearctic, vol 5. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cuthill IC, Macdonald WA (1990) Experimental manipulation of the dawn and dusk chorus in the blackbird Turdus merula. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 26:209–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dallmann M (1987) Der Zaunkönig, Troglodytes troglodytes. Neue Brehm-Bücherei, Bd. 577. Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg

    Google Scholar 

  9. Davies NB, Houston AI (1984) Territory economics. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 148–169

    Google Scholar 

  10. Double M, Cockburn A (2000) Pre-dawn infidelity: females control extra-pair mating in superb fairy-wrens. Proc R Soc Lond B 267:465–470

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Garson PJ (1980) Male behaviour and female choice: mate selection in the wren? Anim Behav 28:491–502

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Glutz von Blotzheim UN (ed) (1985) Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 10/2. AULA, Wiesbaden

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hall ML, Illes A, Vehrencamp SL (2006) Overlapping signals in banded wrens: long-term effects of prior experience on males and females. Behav Ecol 17:260–269

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hutchinson JMC (2002) Two explanations of the dawn chorus compared: how monotonically changing light levels favour a short break from singing. Anim Behav 64:527–539

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hutchinson JMC, McNamara JM, Cuthill IC (1993) Song, sexual selection, starvation and strategic handicaps. Anim Behav 45:1153–1177

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hyman J (2005) Seasonal variation in response to neighbors and strangers by a territorial songbird. Ethology 111:951–961

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Kacelnik A (1979) The foraging efficiency of great tits (Parus major) in relation to light intensity. Anim Behav 27:237–241

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kacelnik A, Krebs JR (1983) The dawn chorus in the great tit (Parus major): proximate and ultimate causes. Behaviour 83:287–309

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kunc HP, Amrhein V, Naguib M (2005) Seasonal variation in dawn song characteristics in the common nightingale. Anim Behav 70:1265–1271

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Liu W-C (2004) The effect of neighbours and females on dawn and daytime singing behaviours by male chipping sparrows. Anim Behav 68:39–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Mace R (1987) The dawn chorus in the great tit Parus major is directly related to female fertility. Nature 330:745–746

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. McDonald MV (1989) Function of song in Scott’s seaside sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae. Anim Behav 38:468–485

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. McNamara JM, Mace RH, Houston AI (1987) Optimal daily routines of singing and foraging in a bird singing to attract a mate. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20:399–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Mennill DJ, Ratcliffe LM, Boag PT (2002) Female eavesdropping on male song contests in songbirds. Science 296:873

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Naguib M, Amrhein V, Kunc HP (2004) Effects of territorial intrusions on eavesdropping neighbors: communication networks in nightingales. Behav Ecol 15:1011–1015

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. R Development Core Team (2006) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. http://www.R-project.org

  27. Schmidt R, Amrhein V, Kunc HP, Naguib M (2007) The day after: effects of vocal interactions on territory defence in nightingales. J Anim Ecol 76:168–173

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Slagsvold T, Dale S, Sætre G-P (1994) Dawn singing in the great tit (Parus major): mate attraction, mate guarding, or territorial defence? Behaviour 131:115–138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Staicer CA, Spector DA, Horn AG (1996) The dawn chorus and other diel patterns in acoustic signaling. In: Kroodsma DE, Miller EH (eds) Ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 426–453

    Google Scholar 

  30. Stamps JA, Krishnan VV (2001) How territorial animals compete for divisible space: a learning-based model with unequal competitors. Am Nat 157:154–169

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Switzer PV, Stamps JA, Mangel M (2001) When should a territory resident attack? Anim Behav 62:749–759

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Tobias J, Seddon N (2000) Territoriality as a paternity guard in the European robin, Erithacus rubecula. Anim Behav 60:165–173

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Trillo PA, Vehrencamp SL (2005) Song types and their structural features are associated with specific contexts in the banded wren. Anim Behav 70:921–935

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Welling P, Koivula K, Lahti K (1995) The dawn chorus is linked with female fertility in the Willow tit Parus montanus. J Avian Biol 26:241–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Valentin Amrhein.

Additional information

Communicated by F. Bairlein.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Keywords

  • Dawn chorus
  • Dusk chorus
  • Bird song
  • Song playback
  • Territory defence