Donald E. Kroodsma

Photograph of First Last

Emeritus Professor

Contact Info



B.A., Hope College, 1968
Ph.D., Oregon State University, 1972


1972-1974, Rockefeller University

Research Interests

Vocal Communication in Birds

Bird song provides a unique model system for studying the function, evolution, ontogeny, and control of behavior patterns. In trying to understand the biology of bird song, we ask questions at all four levels. In our studies of New World warblers (Parulinae), for example, we hope to understand not only how the birds use two different categories of songs, but also the exact function of the different song forms, when, if, and from whom the birds learn these behaviors, and exactly how the birds know when to use the appropriate behaviors. With the marsh wren, our goal is to understand the neural control and ontogeny of the songs and especially the diversity of behaviors among North American populations; males in eastern and western populations differ dramatically in their singing behaviors, and a special interest is what happens in zones of Great Plains sympatry where these two forms meet. Our third focus is on the differences in song development and neural control between songbirds, to which the wrens and warblers belong, and the suboscines, the sister group of the songbirds in the order Passeriformes. Overall, our goals are, quite simply, to understand, through observations and experiments in both the laboratory and the field, the diversity and evolution of vocal behaviors among birds.

Representative Publications

Byers, B.E. and D.E. Kroodsma. 1992. Development of two song categories by chestnut-sided warblers. Animal Behavior 44: 799-810.

Kroodsma, D.E. and M. Konishi. 1991. A suboscine bird (eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe) develops normal song without auditory feedback. Animal Behaviour 42: 477-487.

Kroodsma, D.E. and H. Momose. 1991. Songs of the Japanese population of the winter wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). Condor 93: 424-432.

Kroodsma, D.E. and B.E. Byers. 1991. The function(s) of bird song. American Zoologist 31: 318-328.

Kroodsma, D.E. 1989. Two North American song populations of the marsh wren reach distributional limits in the central Great Plains. Condor 91: 332-340.

Kroodsma, D.E. and R.A. Canady. 1985. Differences in repertoire size, singing behavior, and associated neuroanatomy among marsh wren populations have a genetic basis. Auk 102: 439-446.

Kroodsma, D.E. and Miller, E.H., eds. 1982. Acoustic communication in birds. Vol, 1 & 2. Academic Press, N.Y.