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History Of Bird Rock Stars

Living a couple of blocks from a freshwater marsh, I often hear the animal wildlife communicate with each other.

The ducks sound like they are laughing while sharing a joke, the frogs sing three part harmony, the squirrels squeal as they gather plants and 135 native bird species sing the melodious tunes of their soul like no others.

We too have our own language fueled by emotion and it all makes interesting listening. If you have never stopped to listen to nature, then you are surely missing out on a symphony.

Listening to nature not only gives you a way to relax but it can also make you curious as to what they are saying? Nature is a sound garden with plenty of unique sounds and tonalities.

Birds are especially musically inclined and can really belt out a tune like the best rock stars. Thankfully you won’t find them smashing their guitars on stage or any other rock star antics. They don’t need any other instruments except their voices.

Dawn is the optimal time to hear birds. One theory is that dawn is the best time for sound to travel, because there is little wind and less other noise and disturbance. Songs broadcast at dawn can be 20 times as effective as those broadcast at midday.

Nightingales hold up to 300 different love songs in their repertoire.

Canaries take 30 mini-breaths a second to replenish its air supply.

Cowbirds use 40 different notes, some so high we can't hear them.

Chaffinches can sing a song half a million times in a season.

Superb Lyrebirds have the loudest bird call in the world.

Bitterns have loud, booming calls and can travel the farthest of all bird songs. It calls relentlessly both day and night.

Kakapos also have one of the most far-carrying songs of any bird.

Several small birds sing on elevated perches high in the vegetation to minimize interference from the ground and foliage.

Brown Thrashers have over 2000 songs in their repertoire.

Sedge warblers produces some of the longest and most complicated of all bird songs.

Marsh wrens conduct singing duels for control of the best quality territories in the limited marsh habitats in the western United States. Males with the most complex songs do best to attract the most females. Males with larger repertoires are preferred by females and hence mate earlier than their rivals. When the males return from migration they sing continuously until mating.

Female alpine accentors sing to attract males, because when she mates with as many males as possible - each one will then assist in caring for her young.

Female red-winged blackbirds sing two distinct song types throughout the breeding season. One song is a form of communication directed at her partner. Another song is sung when other females appear as a sign of aggression.

Male European robins sing all year round. They have two songs, a longer more complex one to attract females in the breeding season, and a shorter simpler one to defend the territory in the winter. Both sexes sing in the winter because both male and female defend separate territories to ensure that each will have enough food to survive the winter.

The female black-headed grosbeaks will use songs to scare her mate. Grosbeak parents take turns in incubating the eggs. But if the male is late returning to relieve the female from her duty, she sings a complex song imitating a male grosbeak. This may be to trick her mate into returning by giving the impression that a rival male is on his territory.

Ravens learn each other's calls. When one partner is away or out of sight, the other will often call with it's mate's individual calls to relocate it and prompt it to return. Both sexes will sing a duet in alternation. Duetting is common in birds that maintain year-round territories.

Each bird is an expert sound mixer. It can also produce the whole chorus on its own. The sound produced by one individual will sound as complex as that produced by nine.

The only bird who doesn’t sing is a humming bird because they don’t know the words. ;D

The next time you hear birds singing, they could be auditioning for the next American Bird Idol.


Natural Moments 4/16/2009 5:03 PM  

This was a fun post for me Alexys.

I imagine that the sun contains so much energy that when someone speaks or sings, it is harder for the song to travel through on an audible sense level. Therefore, at night time, when there is no sun apparently shining, you can hear noises for miles and miles. So in the mornings, I agree, there is less interference to stop the songs from traveling far.

I heard a theory once that I enjoy. The biologist said that in a healthy ecosystem, one can measure the sound activity in the mornings to sense a perfect symphony. Every bird or animal can hear its call for miles around even while they all sing at once, because they are broadcasting on a specific frequency that each species can specifically tune into. However, if a new species enters the territory that uses a similar frequency, then tension arises.

Noise pollution from humans is also putting stress on particular frequencies typically used by nature. Many animals can no longer hear themselves because of our inconsideration and unconscious actions.

I suppose humanity has been at war with Nature. Hopefully we can find our true songs and sing along with nature in harmony.

Alexys Fairfield 4/16/2009 6:35 PM  

Hi Bernie,

Very interesting sun theory. So you're saying that it's density blocks the audible life stream? Or just blocks it from the naked ear?

I have noticed that when I listen to these marvelous creatures speak, it is like they are reciting Shakespeare.

As soon as some of them sense an intruder (humans) they stop, but the brave ones continue to recite as if they have the world audience. They are consummate performers as they echo, "The show must go on."

In finding our true song, hopefully it won't be a swan song.

Liara Covert 4/16/2009 7:34 PM  

You always offer your readers juicy morsels to tantalize the tastebuds of the soul. Thanks for the reminder of interconnectedness with Mother Nature's creatures. How easily it can be for some human beings to forget love is coming at them from all directions, including in vibrations of heavenly music sent through birds.

Natural Moments 4/16/2009 8:10 PM  

I can imagine that the sun with its energy along with all the other energy that is awake and moving about has a vibration, and all that collective vibration makes a static noise. And so i can imagine that it is harder for someone's voice to travel through a room where millions of other voices are calling out for attention. Perhaps it is all of the energy that is floating about and conflicting with one another that causes us not to hear something easily in the distance. ?

I have noticed that when the mind is quiet and isn't engaged in processing a lot of loops or information or emotions, then the birds won't mind the human presence. It's as if the quiet mind can slip into the natural rythems of nature without having to cause any alarms to sound.

Miruh 4/16/2009 9:36 PM  

Hello Alexys,

This bit of bird trivia is not only entertaining but makes me wonder at the magnificent intelligence and creativity of mother nature in all her varied forms.

Gives a different meaning to bird-brain: ... she sings a complex song imitating a male grosbeak. This may be to trick her mate into returning by giving the impression that a rival male is on his territory. :D

Alexys Fairfield 4/16/2009 11:45 PM  

Hi Liara,

It's my job to keep cooking the delicious tidbits to satisfy the Soul. Thanks for sitting at my table and partaking in the feast of life. There will always be a seat for you here.

Alexys Fairfield 4/16/2009 11:47 PM  

Hi Bernie,

Yes. that makes sense. It's like the floor of the stock exchange. Everyone shouts at once, but they all seem to hear what they need to hear. There are times when I observe ducks and they will waddle up to my feet as if they want to ask me something? I wish I could speak duck.

Alexys Fairfield 4/16/2009 11:48 PM  

Hi Miruh,

Mother nature is a loving and attentive parent. She aligns everything where it should be and gives us the opportunity to watch her work.

Bird brains are very intelligent.

"...she sings a complex song imitating a male grosbeak. This may be to trick her mate into returning by giving the impression that a rival male is on his territory."

I think that's exactly what it is. You would think that after the male falls for it once, he wouldn't fall for it again, but apparently he does. I guess the males have a goldfish memory. LOL.

UBERMOUTH 4/19/2009 11:53 AM  

Alexys- As you know I live on a farm. I can hear the birds calling their babies to bed, as I type this.
My Mum feeds the birds & wildlife and it's quite amazing when one lives amongst such nature.
The dawn chorus never fails to amaze me. Their antics as we watch are like watching another world.

Alexys Fairfield 4/19/2009 5:02 PM  


I know what you mean. I wonder what they think when they watch us? I wonder if it's even printable. LOL.

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