Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 62

well as the chick-a-dee call, according to
Susan Smith, who studied black-capped
chickadees for decades and wrote the
BNA account.
Male and female eastern towhees
call che-wink, and once, back in 1958,
a mated female towhee in Indiana sang
an "unmusical, flat, somewhat squeaky"
song, reported V. Nolan Jr., of Indiana
University's Ketterson Lab.
White-throated sparrow females sing
the same song as males, but their songs
are shorter and their notes less steady in
pitch. Occasionally, they sing even in fall
migration and during the winter, J.B. Falls
and J.G. Kopachena reported in the BNA.
Other BNA research pieces report
tufted titmice females sing peter-peter like
males do, but the female's song is lower
in pitch. Fox sparrow females also sing
the same song as males, but their song is
softer and shorter. House finch females,
too, sing a simplified version of the male's
song, as do female song sparrows.
Margaret Morse Nice, who studied
song sparrows intensively for decades in
Ohio, found that female song sparrows
sing rarely, but especially in response to
territorial conflicts with female intruders
in the spring. She reported in 1943 that
only 11 out of 200 females she observed
sang. Canadian researchers in 1988 found
a mere 12 of 140 female song sparrows
they studied in British Columbia sang.
Odom and Benedict in their paper
reported that they and their colleagues
have started the Female Bird Song Project,
asking birders and researchers around
the world to listen for singing female and
report their observations and share their
audio recordings. They also gave pointers
on how to write descriptions of songs and
how to record them. Their goal is to find
as many female singers as possible.
In June 2017, Ball State University
62

graduate student Alexander Sharp made
a discovery. Sharp was monitoring a
cerulean warbler nest, 50 feet up in a tree
in southern Indiana's Yellow Wood State
Forest, when he heard a higher-pitched but
repetitive zeet alongside the male's similar
song. Initially, he thought it was a nestling
learning the male's song.
But the next day, when he returned to
the nest with other university researchers,
who heard the call again, the "singer"
peered over the nest edge, and they were
shocked to see it was a female.
Then, less than a week later, they found
a second female singing a "truer song that
was long, rhythmic and complex." She
sang only while foraging with her mate,
and seemed to be singing an encore to the
male's song.
Even though Ball State University
scientists had been studying cerulean
warblers for 20 years, this was the first
time they had documented female bird
song in this species. They not only wrote
about their discovery in The Wilson
Journal of Ornithology in June 2019,
they made excellent video recordings of
the female singers and put them up on
YouTube where I enjoyed watching and
listening to them.
Ornithologist Bridget Stutchbury discovered female hooded warblers were
leaving their nesting territories in northwestern Pennsylvania every three hours to
search for extra-pair copulations. She told
writer Kathi Borgmann in her excellent
Living Bird article titled "The Forgotten Female Now a Focus of Study," the
discovery upended common beliefs that
only males look for extra-pair copulations.
Stutchbury also found that female blueheaded vireos left their nesting territory
after their eggs hatched to look for males.



Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020

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Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 5
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Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover4
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