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Voices and Vocabularies - Cardinals' Duet

Beautiful bird banter: he sings, she sings

Among most North American songbirds, it’s males alone who sing. But during the nesting season, we also hear female cardinals. Just when she sings and whether or not she matches his song may determine when the male brings food to the nest. 

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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Voices & Vocabularies - Cardinals' Duet

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Song of Northern Cardinal male]

Rare among North American songbirds are those that sing a “duet.” A male cardinal, spiffy red with a spiky crest, perches bolt upright atop a backyard tree.  

He sings a song of pure, whistled tones. [Repeat song of Northern Cardinal male] 

Now we hear a reply, precisely the same notes, but softer. [Song of Northern Cardinal female]  

He sings again [Song of Northern Cardinal male], from among a repertoire of about 10 songs. Again a soft reply. [Song of Northern Cardinal female] It’s coming from a tangle of vines below his perch. 

And there she is, the author of the soft song, flying out from the vines directly to the male’s perch, alighting beside him. It’s a female cardinal, his mate, feathered in olive and muted red. Again she answers his song. [Repeat song of Northern Cardinal female] 

With most North American songbirds, it’s males alone who sing. But during the nesting season, we also hear female cardinals. Just when she sings and whether or not she matches his song may determine when the male brings food to the nest. [Song of Northern Cardinal female] 

Today’s show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation. I’m Michael Stein. [Song of Northern Cardinal male] 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Northern Cardinal male [49062] recorded by Greg Budney; Northern Cardinal female [100765] recorded by W.L. Hershberger; and Northern Cardinal female [100764] by W.L. Hershberger.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org   April 2015  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#     sound-18-2013-04-29 sound-18

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