Birds in the family Paridae, including chickadees, titmice and tits, share a chick-a-dee call system which is one of the most complex call systems of any known species. The overall complexity of the chick-a-dee system seems to be related to social organization and space use. The social networks of parids (Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice) at 3 different sites in central Indiana vary with site quality, as does overall space use. Networks are much larger at the low quality site and are more compact at the high quality site. These network structures correlate with very large home ranges at the low quality site and smaller territories at the high quality site. Chick-a-dee calls tend to be simpler at the lowest quality sites for chickadees, but seem to be more complex at the lowest quality sites for titmice. These patterns could result from the unusual social system of chickadees. Finally, the song system of the Carolina chickadee in central Indiana is, as far as we can tell, unique relative to other Carolina chickadees in other parts of the country. I’ll discuss some of the patterns we’ve found that vary across the state.
Dr Lucas is currently a Professor in the Dept of Biological Sciences, Purdue University. He got a BS at the Florida Institute of Technology, a MS and PhD at the University of Florida, and did a postdoc at Oxford University. He works in the general field of animal communication, and specializes on vocal complexity of the Paridae and on seasonal variation in the avian auditory system. He was an executive editor of the journal Animal Behaviour, and he is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.