Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Critical Period for Song Learning

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1650-1



A species-specific developmental time window in which juvenile songbirds are especially sensitive to auditory input and are able to readily memorize the song patterns of conspecific adults.


Songs are an essential trait of songbirds and serve multiple communicative functions. They are used, more commonly, by males to attract and stimulate the reproductive behavior of females, to advertise territory ownership, and to mediate competition between rival males (Collins 2004). Although the process of song learning in songbirds has attracted attention and received contributions from several fields, including ethology, behavioral ecology, genetics, and neurobiology, it still stands as a major evolutionary puzzle. Song learning has drawn so much scientific interest, in part, due to its similarity to the process of language acquisition. Songbirds share with humans the very distinctive ability of vocal...


Song Learning Juvenile Songbirds Sensorimotor Phase Song Acquisition Conspecific Song 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Shannon Digweed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacEwan UniversityEdmontonCanada