Vol 4, Issue 2, May 2017

Does a Rival's Song Elicit Territorial Defense in a Tropical Songbird, the Pied Bush Chat (Saxicola caprata)?


Dadwal, N., & Bhatt, D. (2017). Does a rival’s song elicit territorial defense in a tropical songbird, the Pied Bush Chat (Saxicola caprata)? Animal Behavior and Cognition, 4(2), 146–153. https://doi.org/10.12966/abc.02.05.2017


The purpose of bird song and the way in which it is delivered has been argued to be adapted mainly for territorial defense. We performed a field experiment with the combination of playbacks and a model to test how much song actually relates to increased territorial defense in the territorial tropical songbird, the Pied Bush Chat, during breeding season (Feb–May, 2015) at Haridwar, Himalayan Foothills, India. As expected, the results of the experiment indicated that song was the major cue used by territory holders to cope with rival intrusions. The song rate was particularly escalated during simulated territorial interactions when the model was presented with a playback song of conspecifics. Behaviors such as restlessness (perch change), the height of perch, and distance from the model appeared to be of relatively lesser importance. To our knowledge, no avian species from the Indian subcontinent has been studied to provide evidence that song can escalate aggressive response by a territory owner.