How Does Song Sequence Duration Vary Between Breeding Stages in the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)?

Helen L. Wright


During their spring breeding season, male Northern mockingbirds sing continuously for up to several hours while frequently switching between different song types. Singing behavior is thought to influence female mate choice.  A previous observational study found that males produced a greater number of song types per unit of time during the nest building stage and declined once incubation began.  Using song data from nine free-living mockingbirds on Elon University’s campus, I measured the duration of song sequences during the different breeding stages. I found that males sang more continuously when females were fertile.  This increase in song duration during female fertility periods indicates the probable importance of song duration in stimulating a female mate.  It also suggests that it is evolutionarily advantageous for males to sing longer sequences during times of female fertility.  


breeding season, song duration, Northern mockingbirds

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