Behaviour 2019
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Effects of sleep deprivation on birdsong performance in adult Australian magpies
Juliane Gaviraghi Mussoi1, Robin D. Johnsson2, Farley Connelly2,3, John A. Lesku2, Kristal E. Cain1. 1The University of Auckland, Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 2LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 3The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Birds sing to attract mates, defend territories and manage hierarchies. Among songbirds, song learning and maintenance occur through song repetition during the day and consolidation during sleep. However, little is known regarding how lack of sleep affects song performance in adult birds. In this study, we investigated whether sleep deprivation altered the song performance of Australian magpies. We deprived adult magpies of a full night of sleep through gentle handling. We recorded their songs for three days: the day before sleep loss, following the sleep deprivation protocol, and after an undisturbed night of sleep. We found that sleep-deprived magpies sang longer songs, but less frequently. They also shifted their peak singing times, singing more songs during the afternoon instead of in the morning and evening. Birds also sang at a lower bandwidth after recovery. Sleep-deprived birds may be prioritizing sleep over singing, overcompensating by singing longer songs and shifting singing time, or as a stress response following night-time disturbance. These findings indicate that sleep can have large effects on ecologically relevant behaviours, including singing in adult songbirds.