Birds start to claim territorial ownership late in the winter, and it is their song that announces the arrival of spring. Song is an effective way of broadcasting ownership. An array of speakers placed in lieu of a territorial owner will keep other males away. But birdsong is not just a threat flung at potential trespassers; it is also used to woo and seduce females. A number of authors have shown that the song of male birds—the warbling of budgerigars, the cooing of doves and the song of canaries—induces ovulation in females. In these cases it plays an important role in regulating the female hormonal condition. Male song can also trigger more immediate changes. For example, the song of a male cowbird or swamp sparrow induces the female to adopt the soliciting posture necessary for copulation. Thus, whereas birdsong for humans may sound cheerful, to female songbirds it has sex appeal. Despite these comments, birdsong is not always restricted to males. Female European robins sing in winter, when they defend a feeding territory. Male and female Amazona parrots sing antiphonally, each member of the pair contributing specific components of the shared pattern. This phenomenon, called duetting, is also common among some tropical songbirds.
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