Spatial unmasking of birdsong in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)

J Comp Psychol. 2009 Nov;123(4):357-67. doi: 10.1037/a0016898.


Budgerigars and zebra finches were tested, using operant conditioning techniques, on their ability to identify a zebra finch song in the presence of a background masker emitted from either the same or a different location as the signal. Identification thresholds were obtained for three masker types differing in their spectrotemporal characteristics (noise, modulated noise, and a song chorus). Both bird species exhibited similar amounts of spatial unmasking across the three masker types. The amount of unmasking was greater when the masker was played continuously compared to when the target and masker were presented simultaneously. These results suggest that spatial factors are important for birds in the identification of natural signals in noisy environments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Female
  • Finches*
  • Male
  • Melopsittacus*
  • Orientation*
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Pitch Discrimination
  • Sound Localization*
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Species Specificity
  • Vocalization, Animal*