Practice makes perfect
April 4, 2005 10:29 AM   Subscribe

The babbling of baby birds "Hear a baby wren and the author"s own daughter babble as each learns its local dialect. Listen to the mockingbird by night and by day and count how many different songs he can sing. Marvel at the exquisite harmony in the duet of a wood thrush as he uses his two voice boxes to accompany himself." The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong, by Donald Kroodsma, with accompanying audio CD.
posted by troutfishing (6 comments total)
Anyone else think that's a chestnut-sided warbler on the cover?
posted by driveler at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2005

Terry Gross of Fresh Air did a story on bird listeners, and those who study bird listeners.

There are some samples as well (the hey sweetie one is there).
posted by WL at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2005

This is cool, but then I wouldn't think otherwise. (obligatory Everything2 self-link)
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2005

Each male Bewick's wren has a song repertoire of 15 to 20 different songs. In this particular song, see several introductory notes at the beginning and then two series of repeated elements at the end. The buzzy chatter... followed by the four “S-shaped” notes.. at the end of the song make this particular song distinctive.

Boy howdy on the chatter followed by four notes.

There was a Bewick's Wren that slept in the ivy on the building I used to manage on Capitol Hill. I spent my summer evenings watering the postage stamp sized and very shady lawn and flower beds where I grew night scented stock and such--so it was used to my presence.

Just the same,when the wren came in the yard, it would start scolding me with a very wrennish chatter until I turned my back to the building, so it could fly into the ivy unobserved. If I had company out there, I made them turn around, too. They are very shy birds.

This winter, I learned the nuptial song of Anna's Hummingbird. A male had staked out the feeder and sat perched in a nearby cherry tree and sang this reedy, wheezy trill and it sounded as though it was a minature starling raised by house finches. "Why's a hummingbird singing about in January, if birds only sing when they breed?"--such was the thought that came to mind. It turns out December and January are when Anna's Hummingbirds breed. We have very mild winters here but, just the same, go figure.

But, boy, once I heard that song and the distinctive hummingbird chirp they make--somewhere between a geiger counter and a dying smoke alarm--when they fly, I heard them everywhere I went. And then, after looking around, I would see them, perched, flying or a-hover.

It's my ambition to learn as many birdsongs as I can.
posted by y2karl at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2005

I heard this of Fresh Air and stopped everything for an hour. Obviously, I'm a bird freak but this really choked me up. Great post!

Viva la mockingbird!
posted by moonbird at 3:03 PM on April 4, 2005

I got very caught up in a project this winter and forgot to refill the bird feeder for a few days.

I wonder if my bird feeding is ethical ? If I disappear, will babbling baby birds die ?"
posted by troutfishing at 8:33 PM on April 4, 2005

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