We have just posted a preprint for our new paper, Fighting isn’t sexy in lekking Greater Sage-grouse(Centrocercus urophasianus)! The hope is for any interested person who may have seen me present this project to be able to access a citable source to a get a better idea of the methods we used during the time before it comes out in a journal. Check it out on bioRxiv at this link here, and feel free to reach out with questions!
Here is a summary of the study and the main results (again, still pending peer-review and publication) I presented at the Symposium on Multimodality and Choreography in Elaborate Displays at the International Ornithological Congress, August 2022:
In this natural history note published in the Canadian Field-Naturalist, colleagues and I describe a “highly anomalous” song we heard while out birding in a marsh around Ottawa, Ontario. The very strange two-note song piqued our interest, and we were surprised to see it coming out of a male Red-winged Blackbird doing a typical territorial display, but sounding not at all typical! We recorded it on two separate occasions- you can listen to what it sounded like here on left, recorded by lead author Brandon Edwards and accessioned in the Macaulay Library. Compare the sound and spectrogram to a more typical song on the right:
In the paper we review the various possible causes for aberrant bird song known in the literature, including malnourishment while young. We speculate that in this case, however, the bird was likely deaf from a young age. Though this is possibly just one idiosyncratic example, this highlights the importance of always being on the lookout for new and strange things around you- each little natural history note contributes to a constellation of data points that can show us how the world is changing or how our original thinking might be wrong!