Research Interests

Song learning in songbirds

In collaboration with Franz Goller's lab, we are studying how songbirds learn their songs. Songbirds must hear song early in life in order to later develop a good copy of the song of their local dialect; they are not innately able to produce a correct song. During song development, birds compare what they produce to the memorized representation (template) of the song(s) that they heard during their 'sensitive period' early in life. We are currently studying song learning in the species of white-crowned sparrows that is found in our local mountains. Our work is directed at exploring the nature of the 'template', how experience shapes it, and how it is used to guide song development. Recent advances in digital signal processing now enable us to track the developmental paths that these birds take in producing complete song.