By Sydnie Casey, Biological Sciences
Advisor: Ron Canterbury
Abstract: Song delivery and structure are important determinants in avian life history evolution and mate choice in passeriform birds. For the urban-adapted Northern Cardinal, little is known about fitness determinants and importance of song, especially in the earlier temporal phases of territory establish and mate selection. In this study, I collected data at three localities, specifically on the West campus of the University of Cincinnati, Burnet Woods, and Corryville, to quantify singing rates and determinants of song in urban Northern Cardinals. Data were collected for two months and included 20-minutes of observation for each male Northern Cardinal in previously known cardinal territories. The goal is to try to test for determinants of early song when pairs usually do not have their first clutch until May with the question of why sing in February and March? Early song appears to be consistent no matter the age of the male birds. For each male bird, data were collected on location, perch height during song bouts, weather conditions, sing rates, and behavior. Behavioral data included response and aggressiveness to other male cardinals, counter-singing, response from females including duet singing, and response from male birds to five minutes of song-playback. Data are currently still being collected and compiled and analyzed to compare singing rates and determinants of song in early spring vs. late spring.