Behaviour 2019
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Does song get better with age in European Starlings?
Maheshi Dharmasiri, Colleen Barber. Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Females from a range of taxa prefer to mate with older males; they may gain direct benefits of enhanced offspring provisioning or indirect benefits such as good genes for their offspring. Female birds assess male quality through song characteristics such as song complexity, song bout length, and song rate. Song repertoire size increases with age in a small number of species such as European Starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Variation within song types is less studied, but has been detected in a few species, although its function in starlings is not known. We examined repertoire size, within-song type variation and song bout length with respect to male age in an eastern Canadian population of European Starlings. Repertoire size and song bout length did not increase with age in either the longitudinal or the cross-sectional analyses. However, younger males tended to have more within-song type variation than older males. These findings suggest that male song repertoire in European Starlings does not significantly increase over a one-year period, but a larger sample size is needed. The number of within-song type variants decreased with age and could play a role in mate attraction.