Song Repertoires in a Western European Population of Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella

  • Caro S
  • Keulen C
  • Poncin P
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Geographic variation is one of the most intensively studied bird song topics. However, our knowledge of geographical song variations in most species studied so far is very sparse, with many areas of the species-typical geographic distributions still unexplored. One striking example is the Yellowhammer: for this species most song studies have been conducted along well defined dialect borders, but almost nothing is known about its song characteristics in other regions of its broad geographic distribution. In this study, we investigated the song structure variations and stereotypes in different areas of western Belgium and northern France. We described 66 different song types (a-elements) in 45 males recorded. Each male had a unique individual repertoire consisting of 1 to 4 of these song types. This high variability at the individual level contrasted with the high homogeneity of the specific repertoire over the whole geographic distribution of the species. The evolutionary implications of such specificity are discussed with regard to song learning and timing of singing activity. Finally, all males recorded belonged to the western regiolect, although some mixed-singers were also recorded. These results contrast with the very few studies previously conducted in western Europe which have suggested that eastern regiolect songs were common in this geographic area.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 2009
  • accepted
  • dialect
  • emberiza citrinella
  • febr
  • june 2008
  • received
  • recognition
  • song characteristics
  • yellowhammer

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  • Samuel P. Caro

  • Christine Keulen

  • Pascal Poncin

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