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J Comp Psychol. 1994 Mar;108(1):81-92.

Vocal plasticity in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus): evidence for social factors in the learning of contact calls.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742.


Distance or contact calls of 6 unrelated adult male budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) were recorded before and during 8 weeks of social contact. The 6 birds were housed in 2 separate groups of 3 each in adjoining cages. Birds in each cage could hear but not see the birds in the neighboring cage. At the beginning of the study, none of the birds shared any contact call types. The first appearance of 1 bird's imitation of a cagemate's contact call type occurred after 1 week. Call type repertoires continued to change; some call types dropped out of the repertoires, and others were modified over time. Birds in the same cage shared the same dominant call type 8 weeks later, and the dominant call types differed between the 2 cages. Thus, budgerigars can learn calls as adults, and call type convergence is achieved through mutual vocal imitation of social companions. In the absence of social but not aural contact, vocal imitation was greatly reduced.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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