Types of songs and Calls
The song of the Northern Cardinal is 2-3 seconds long and consist of a string of slurred whistles usually getting faster and turning into a trill. The Northern Cardinal has 16 distinct calls. The most common call is a loud short metallic chip. Calls are used in a plethora of ways including warning off predators and telling the other member of the pair when it is about to get fed.
The Northern Cardinal has many dialects do the vast region the Northern Cardinal lives in. An example of the vast amount of dialects, is in three forested habitats in texas Northern Cardinals songs differed in length and syllables.
The Song of the Northern Cardinal is dimorphic. The songs between male and female Northern Cardinals within the amplitude of the harmonics. There is a minimum amplitude of -33 dB to the peak.
The Male bird is the one who does most of the parental care and during that time period teaches the young numerous Songs. Both Male and Female Northern Cardinals learn song. Both sexes learn song during the breeding season. To the human ear the song of the male and the female Northern Cardinal sound similar, but as stated above are slightly dimorphic. Young male Cardinals will learn more complex songs to gain their initial territory.Then as time goes on the males will put less time into their songs and they will become shorter and the male Northern Cardinal will put more time in effort into care and defense for their young. There is also the ranging hypothesis which shows cardinals learning degraded versions of neighbor songs in order to differentiate territories.
The Female Song trait for the Northern Cardinal is highly unusual for songbirds. Even though Females sing and their songs are generally longer and more complicated Females sing way less then their male counterparts. In one study the females sang an observed amount of 0.5% of time, this was out of 45,000 minutes. Females sing over a much shorter time period then males do. Females rarely sing alone as they are generally accompanied by their male partners.
Female Cardinals and their involvement with courtship is a very unknown phenomena. There have been only two populations where female song-dance courtship have been observed. Through multiple samples of Northern Cardinal populations we can determine if this is more common, and what exactly the Females role in the courtship process is. Future work with the Northern Cardinal will most likely reside in their ability to sing and work will be done to attempt the full documentation of this process.
Anderson, Mary E., and Richard N. Conner. “Northern Cardinal Song in Three Forest Habitats in Eastern Texas.” The Wilson Bulletin 97.4 (1985): 436-49. JSTOR. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Conner, Richard N. “Relationships among Territory Size, Habitat, Song, and Nesting Success of Northern Cardinals.” The Auk 103.1 (1986): 23-31. JSTOR. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
DeVries, Susan, Caitlin Winters, and Jodie Jawor. “Female Performance of Male Courtship Display in Northern Cardinals.” Southeastern Naturalist (2014): 13-17. BioOne. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Kroodsma, Donald E. The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.
Ritchison, Gary. “The Singing Behavior of Female Northern Cardinals.” The Condor 88.2 (1986): 156-59. JSTOR. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Yamaguchi, Ayako. “A Sexually Dimorphic Learned Birdsong in the Northern Cardinal.” The Condor 100.3 (1998): 504-11. Web.