Research on bird song has contributed to important advances in diverse biological fields from neurobiology to conservation biology. Bird song has traditionally been studied as an elaborate male trait, but female song is also widespread in both temperate and tropical species and likely evolved in the early ancestors of modern songbirds. However, female song is underrepresented in biological collections compared to male song, and we lack documentation of female songs for most songbird species. Better documentation of female bird song is necessary for an understanding of the prevalence, regulation, function, evolution, and conservation applications of avian vocalizations. Therefore, we call on all researchers to disseminate their observations of female bird song, and to spread the word among other researchers, students, field technicians, and citizen scientists that many female songbirds sing. To this end, we provide resources for disseminating recordings and written documentation of female song, including best practices for documentation, venues for archiving and publishing, and our citizen science project, the Female Bird Song Project. We especially appeal to researchers studying marked populations who can accurately assess sex-specific singing behavior. Documenting female song across many species and geographic regions is a major endeavor. By working collectively, we can make the greatest progress toward applying the resultant knowledge to a wide variety of fields.
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Vol. 135 • No. 2