Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1615-1



Countersinging is a form of vocal interaction that occur between males of some territorial songbird species.


In The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin (1871) introduced his theory of sexual selection to explain the evolution of traits that function in attracting mates (often, but not always, manifest in males rather than in females) and in competing with rivals for access to them. He specifically considered the songs of male songbirds as a case in point which he proposed had evolved via sexual selection. Contemporary research largely confirms Darwin’s conjectures about bird song such that male songs are now generally viewed as “dual function” signals that play a key role in mating behavior. They are used by males to attract and stimulate the reproductive behavior of females, and to mediate...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GIGA – NeurosciencesUniversity of LiegeLiègeBelgium

Section editors and affiliations

  • Shannon M. Digweed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacEwan UniversityEdmontonCanada