She Sings Singular Songs

When it comes to singing, girls rule--at least in the avian world

10-01-2001 // NWF Staff

When it comes to singing, girls rule--at least in the avian world. Young female northern cardinals learn songs in less than one-third the time it takes males to become proficient, a scientist working in California discovered recently. "It's the largest learning difference between sexes ever found," says the researcher, Ayako Yamaguchi.

Both male and female cardinals sing, setting them apart from other common North American songbirds. They learn by copying older cardinals, and add gender-specific characteristics to their tunes. Although the females learn faster, males can pick up tunes for longer periods, allowing them eventually to build an equal or larger repertoire of songs. Maybe that's why guys like to whistle while they work?

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