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As Endangered Birds Lose Their Songs, They Can’t Find Mates by Christina Larson

Male songbirds usually learn their tunes from adult mentors. But when aspiring crooners lack proper role models, they hit all the wrong notes-and have less success attracting mates. For five years, ecologist Ross Crates has tracked the singing ability and breeding success of critically endangered regent honeyeaters. These distinctive black and yellow birds were once common across Australia, but habitat loss since the 1950s has shrunk their population to only about 300 or 400 wild birds today. While male birds once formed large winter flocks, now they are sparsely distributed across the landscape, so many fly solo. That means fewer honeyeater mentors are nearby during young birds’ impressionable first year. “Song learning in many birds is a process similar to humans learning languages-they learn by listening to other individuals,” said Crates, who is based at Australian National University. “If you can’t listen to other individuals, you don’t know what you should be learning.”
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-honeyeaters-wrong-song.html

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