Acoustic pattern variations in the female-directed birdsongs of a colony of laboratory-bred zebra finches

Santosh A. Helekar, Sarah Marsh, Nagalapura S. Viswanath, David B. Rosenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The acoustic profile of the zebra finch song is characterized by a series of identical repeating units, each comprising a distinctive sequence of acoustic elements, called syllables. Here, we perform an analysis of song pattern deviations caused by variabilities in the production of song syllables. Zebra finches produce four different kinds of syllable variabilities-syllable deletions, single or double syllable insertions, syllable alterations, and syllable repetitions. All these variabilities, with the exception of repetitions, are present in songs of more than two-thirds of the normal adult birds; repetitions are present in less than one-fifth of birds. The frequency of occurrence of these variabilities is independent of the amount of singing, suggesting that they are unlikely to result simply from singing-induced physiological changes such as fatigue. Their frequencies in tutor-deprived birds are not significantly different from those in normal birds, indicating that they are unlikely to be acquired due to deficiencies in tutor-dependent learning. The types, patterns of occurrence and relative frequencies of these song syllable variabilities might reveal insights into the functioning of the song motor control pathway. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2000


  • Acoustic analysis
  • Birdsong
  • Variable patterns
  • Vocal dysfluencies
  • zebra finches

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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