Non-territorial nightingales prospect territories during the dawn chorus

Valentin Amrhein*, Hansjoerg P. Kunc, Marc Naguib

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Male songbirds usually sing when they have occupied a territory, but the territory prospecting of non-territorial males is more elusive and has been rarely studied. Here, we simulated newly arriving, non-territorial males by translocating unmated male nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) to our study site. We show that territory prospecting of translocated males was largely confined to the hour before sunrise. The radio-tagged males made extensive excursions visiting several singing males at dawn, but after dawn they remained stationary outside occupied territories. As in many other songbird species, dawn was also the time when resident males sang the most. These results suggest that non-territorial male nightingales use the dawn chorus to assess singing residents or territory occupancy. For resident males, dawn singing may be important to announce territory occupancy to prospecting males and may thus play a role in territory maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S167-S169
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Dawn chorus
  • Floaters
  • Luscinia megarhynchos
  • Non-territorial males
  • Radio tracking

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