Sex-role Reversal in Song. Females Sing More Frequently Than Males In the Streak-backed Oriole

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

J. Jordan Price, Laila Yunes-Jiménez, Marcela Osorio-Beristain, Kevin E. Omland, and Troy G. Murphy. Sex-Role Reversal in Song? Females Sing More Frequently Than Males in the Streak-Backed Oriole, The Condor 110(2):387-392. 2008


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Birds in which both sexes produce complex song are more common in the tropics than in the temperate north, where typically only males sing. Yet surprisingly little is known about female song characteristics in most tropical species. Here we present a comparison of female and male singing behaviors in the Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus), a tropical songbird in which both sexes perform solo songs. Females sing much more frequently than males and produce songs with similar acoustic complexity. Rates of singing by both sexes were higher during breeding than postbreeding while the rates of most other vocalizations did not change, suggesting that song plays an important role in breeding. To our knowledge, this is the first reported species in which females regularly sing at higher rates than males; however, few studies have examined female song in other sexually monomorphic or weakly dimorphic species, so such patterns might not be unique.