Latest Issue of Science News


Cardinal girls learn faster than boys

Female cardinals learn nearly as many songs as males but in only one-third the time, according to a new study that compared the results of his and her music lessons.

In most bird species in temperate climates, only the males sing. Among northern cardinals, however, both males and females become crooners. This unusual arrangement offers a great opportunity to explore gender differences, explains Ayako Yamaguchi, now at Yale University. Her earlier work documented subtle variations in the mature songs of male and female cardinals (SN: 8/29/98, p. 134).

To study differences in how the sexes learned those songs, Yamaguchi raised 26 youngsters in separate chambers. Over a year, each bird heard a sequence of recordings of at least 40 songs from adult cardinals.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.