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Solon Towne and the Meadowlarks

“You’re a lovely creature!”

Over a century ago, a Nebraska man — an audiologist by training — named Solon Towne “collected” the songs of meadowlarks. According to his daughters, he’d saunter about their farm, listening carefully. Then he’d hurry back to his desk to transcribe the birds’ songs into musical notes. To help him remember the songs, he added words. One meadowlark, Towne believed, warned farmers: “Hoop la, potato bug!” Another was concerned about the eggs in its nest: “Be careful, you’ll break ‘em!” And another sang his heart out to his mate: “You’re a lovely creature!”

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Solon Towne and the Meadowlarks

Written by Rick Wright

This is BirdNote.
[Western Meadowlark, ML 516835 – 00:02 ff.]
    Over a century ago, a Nebraska man named Solon Towne began to collect his favorite sounds – the songs of meadowlarks.
[Western Meadowlark, ML 516835 – 00:02 ff.]
    According to his daughters, he’d saunter about their farm with a tuning fork in his hand, listening, then hurry back to his desk to transcribe the songs into musical notes. And to help him remember the songs, he added words.
 [Western Meadowlark, ML 516835 – 00:02 ff.]
One meadowlark, Towne believed, warned farmers: “Hoop la, potato bug!” Another was concerned about the eggs in its well-hidden nest: “Be careful, you’ll break ‘em!”  [ML 210504 :39] One just seemed tired of all that vocalizing: “Singing just as usual.” While another sang his meadowlark heart out to his mate: “You’re a lovely creature!” [Western Meadowlark, ML 516717 :10.]
For a long time, one song eluded Towne, though. Until he discovered that a baker in Omaha by the name of Jay Burns was giving away a picture postcard of a bird with every loaf of bread.
[Western Meadowlark, ML 12732
Suddenly he had it: Towne told everyone he knew that the mystery song – from a meadowlark – translated into English as “Buy your bread from Jay Burns.”
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
[Western Meadowlark, ML 12732]
###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.  Western Meadowlarks: 516835, by Wilbur L. Hershberger; 210504 :30, Bruce Rideout; 516717 by Wilbur L. Hershberger; 12732, by Robert .C. Stein and Robert B Angstadt
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org    August 2016   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#  townes-01-2016-08-09    townes-01

Nebraska Bird Review 32 (1964): 18-28  http://bit.ly/292PfHL

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