Nature's Music: The Science of Birdsong

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Elsevier, Oct 5, 2004 - Nature - 504 pages
The voices of birds have always been a source of fascination. Nature’s Music brings together some of the world’s experts on birdsong, to review the advances that have taken place in our understanding of how and why birds sing, what their songs and calls mean, and how they have evolved. All contributors have strived to speak, not only to fellow experts, but also to the general reader. The result is a book of readable science, richly illustrated with recordings and pictures of the sounds of birds.

Bird song is much more than just one behaviour of a single, particular group of organisms. It is a model for the study of a wide variety of animal behaviour systems, ecological, evolutionary and neurobiological. Bird song sits at the intersection of breeding, social and cognitive behaviour and ecology. As such interest in this book will extend far beyond the purely ornithological - to behavioural ecologists psychologists and neurobiologists of all kinds.

* The scoop on local dialects in birdsong
* How birdsongs are used for fighting and flirting
* The writers are all international authorities on their subject

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Page 27 - ... there is something here that we must deal with theoretically and about which we must be able to make positive statements. In distinguishing hereditary from environmental influence, therefore, I conclude that it is reasonable and intelligible to say that a difference in behavior from a group norm, or between two individuals, is caused by a difference of heredity, or a difference of environment; but not that the deviant behavior is caused by heredity or environment alone.
Page 447 - Stebbins, WC 1970 Studies of Hearing and Hearing Loss in the Monkey. In Animal Psychophysics: The Design and Conduct of Sensory Experiments.
Page 3 - ... also so uncertain where they may stop, that it is impossible to reduce the passages to form a musical bar in any time whatsoever ; — secondly, on account of the pitch of most birds being considerably higher than the most shrill notes of instruments of the greatest compass ; — and lastly, because the intervals used by birds are commonly so minute that we cannot judge at all of them from the more gross intervals into which our musical octave is divided.
Page 10 - ... phylogeny. Thus, where the innate powers of recognition can only carry the animal a part of the way towards its goal, the process is completed and adjusted by a proclivity to attend to certain aspects of a situation and learn in certain restricted times and directions (as in the tendency of a bird to learn and copy the song of its own species in preference to the song of another) so that experience completes for the individual the process initiated by its inherited constitution.

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