Social Learning: Psychological and Biological Perspectives

By Thomas R. Zentall; Bennett G. Galef Jr. | Go to book overview

13
The Role of Social Factors in White-Crowned Sparrow Song Development

Lewis Petrinovich University of California, Riverside

I review evidence suggesting the importance of social factors in song learning by birds, and develop implications this evidence has for analysis of the behavioral and physiological mechanisms by which song is learned. I first discuss in detail song learning in white-crowned sparrows ( Zonotrichia leucophrys). Current conceptions of avian song development utilize data obtained from white-crowned sparrows, and I discuss and evaluate these conceptions, especially those pertaining to sensitive periods, sensory templates, and sensory gating mechanisms, in the light of current evidence. I then outline a model of white-crowned sparrow song learning based on orientation and its habituation, and discuss the implications of orientation processes for understanding the possible physiological processes involved in song learning.


OVERVIEW

Many species of song bird learn their songs from older conspecifics ( Kroodsma & Baylis, 1982). Song dialects have been described for many passerine birds, and all known species with local dialects learn their songs from older birds, often after the age of dispersal (e.g., Baptista & Petrinovich, 1984, 1986; Bertram, 1970; Jenkins, 1978; Kroodsma, 1974; Kroodsma & Pickert, 1984a; Marier, 1970; Payne, 1981b, 1983; Petrinovich, 1985; Petrinovich & Baptista, 1987).

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