[CT Birds] Flycatchers singing: male vs female - Question

Spector, David (Biology) spectord at ccsu.edu
Thu Jun 21 17:24:32 EDT 2018

Tim, et al.,

A quick search on Least found these statements:

" During two years, we observed 4 of 19 females singing, and although singing occurred infrequently, it occurred predominantly at the nest during incubation and brooding"
Song Structure May Differ between Male and Female Least Flycatchers 
Michael M. Kasumovic, Laurene M. Ratcliffe, Peter T. Boag
The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 115, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 241-245 

"Rappole and Warner (Rappole and Warner 1980) collected a singing female, confirming that both sexes sing. Mumford (Mumford 1962a) observed that both members of a Least Flycatcher pair gave chebec songs when examining potential nest sites, indicating that in some situations males and females may give chebec songs in concert. Kasumovic et al. (Kasumovic et al. 2003b) document four singing females in e. Ontario and analyze chebec songs from one of these females. "
Birds of North America account for Least Flycatcher by Scott Taroff and James V. Briskie

If Least females sing, at least occasionally, it is likely that some other female flycatchers sing, at least occasionally.  I don't have time to go through the literature, but here is a quick grab from the Birds of North America account for Willow Flycatcher:

 "In Ontario and Quebec, however, 4 of 21 Willow Flycatchers singing in response to tape playback were later determined to be females; among the 4 females, all 3 forms of the Advertising Song were given (Seutin 1987). One of the 4 females was singing spontaneously before tape playback began and was singing at the top of a willow bush. In s. California, occasional female song noted (M. Whitfield pers. comm.). Most birds heard singing in the field and believed to be females do so from lower perches within a bush and give only weak versions of the Advertising Song (JAS). Sogge et al. (Sogge et al. 1997) reported 1 individual believed to be a female singing over a period of 40 min while her mate and a neighboring male were countersinging; she sang from near the nest and 5 times while sitting on the nest."

A couple of general principles regarding female song:
1)  Female song is more common in the tropics than in the temperate zone (especially migrant species), and I would expect female song to be more common in a primarily tropical family (e.g., tyrant flycatchers) than in a primarily temperate family.

2)  Female song is probably underreported in species in which the sexes are difficult for human observers to distinguish (e.g., most tyrant flycatchers).

Here are a couple of resources that might be helpful:
A review article on female song (but check the original references for details, like frequency of occurrence and context, for a given species):

A group working to document female song:

I hope that helps,


David Spector
Belchertown, Mass.
From: CTBirds [ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org] on behalf of Tim via CTBirds [ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2018 3:41 PM
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Subject: [CT Birds] Flycatchers singing: male vs female - Question

I read that female Least Flycatchers have been noted singing, usually (or always?) from the nest. Do any other female flycatchers sing in CT? Or can any other nesting species of singing flycatcher in CT safely be labeled a male?

Tim Antanaitis
Portland, CT

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