Allison Doupe, 1954-2014. "In this era of interdisciplinary science, there is a common phrase: much is known but in different heads. Occasionally, multiple disciplines come together in one remarkable head."
Minnesota Birdsong: An interactive poster Cute interface with birdsong content provided by the always amazing Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Listening to birdsong is really good for you. But many of us live in urban environments where birdsong is a scarce resource, so you might consider opening up this YouTube audio clip, or this one, or this one, and just let those little birdies serenade you while you work at your computer, or savor your morning coffee, or do your household errands. It's good for the soul.
120 years ago, in Paris, Blaise Bontems made a mechanism for reproducing birdsong. More recently, Michael Start restored it to working condition and recorded a video. [more inside]
"The next time you hear a bird chirping outside your window, you might think twice about what’s going on inside his little birdbrain."
Are birds’ tweets grammatical? [Scientific American] But are the rules of grammar unique to human language? Perhaps not, according to a recent study, which showed that songbirds may also communicate using a sophisticated grammar—a feature absent in even our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe of Kyoto University performed a series of experiments to determine whether Bengalese finches expect the notes of their tunes to follow a certain order.
Geert Chatrou is a whistling maestro. Mozart's Queen of the Night | Czardas Monti. Other amazing whistling and whistlers inside. [more inside]
So* you want to learn the Language of Birds? There's the mnemonic route and the youtube guide. You can listen to the birds in your local habitat or geographic area: New York State**, Florida, Southwestern US, Tropical America***, for example. Or, just find your favorite bird out of 104,517 audio and 33,693 video samples at Cornell's Macaulay Library, and listen. [more inside]
Time to listen to Bird Song Radio - A 'filler' radio station that played on DAB radio in the UK until this week has been pulled from the air, much to the chagrin of thousands of listeners. Reportedly, Terry Pratchett is a fan, saying "There's something about the sound of the outdoors that adds texture to a room. It cools the room down, makes you feel relaxed." [more inside]
The universal grammar of birdsong is genetically encoded. "A new study, published online in the journal Nature, shows that the songs of isolated zebra finches evolve over multiple generations to resemble those of birds in natural colonies. These findings show that song learning in birds is not purely the product of nurture, but has a strong genetic basis, and suggest that bird song has a universal grammar, or an intrinsic structure which is present at birth."
RavenViewer. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers free sound analysis software that allows you to simultaneously listen to and watch spectograms of animal communication, such as the uncanny mimicry of a lovesick Satin Bowerbird or the chilling call of the Common Loon. If birds aren't your bag, there's lots of other animal sounds (and stunning video) to explore.
Songs of Brazilian Birds A fantastically diverse collection of .au files, including the beautifully evocative Organ Wren or Uirapuru, the mooing of the Capuchinbird, the sci-fi minimalism of the Short-tailed Antthrush and a duet of Laughing Falcons (they'll make you laugh at the end).