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Voices and Vocabularies - Songs Long and Short

Bird songs come in many shapes and sizes

When a Sage Thrasher, perched on a clump of sagebrush, tips its head back to sing, the notes rush forth. They often sing non-stop for at least two minutes. In stark comparison, the song of this Brewer’s Blackbird lasts barely a second. And the Henslow’s Sparrow values brevity even more. But whether they’re long and drawn out or short and sweet, bird songs are all about the same things: territory and breeding. 

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Transcript: 

BirdNote® 

Voices & Vocabularies: Songs Long and Short

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote. 

Bird songs come in many shapes and sizes. When a Sage Thrasher, perched atop a clump of sagebrush, tips its head back to sing, the notes rush forth. [Sage Thrasher song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/175693, 0.33-45]

What you just heard is a mere snippet. Sage Thrashers often sing non-stop for at least two minutes, and can go on for more than twenty. In stark comparison, a Brewer’s Blackbird, singing to the world from atop a fence post, sounds brusque. [Brewer’s Blackbird song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/188802, 1.12.] 

One full song from a Brewer’s Blackbird lasts barely a second. [Brewer’s Blackbird song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/188802, 1.12]

Amazingly, a Henslow’s Sparrow values brevity even more. [Henslow’s Sparrow song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/189892, 0.13] 

That was it. In case you missed it…here it is again. [Henslow’s Sparrow song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/189892, 0.13]

But whether long-drawn-out or short-and-sweet, bird songs are all about the same things: territory and breeding. Claiming a space and attracting a mate. Once those are sorted out, further singing by the male is all about keeping his territory intact. [Sage Thrasher song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/175693; 0.48-.55]

As for the Sage Thrasher? He’s still going strong . . . [Sage Thrasher song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/175693; 0.48-.55]

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Sage Thrasher 175693 recorded by G F Budney; Brewer's Blackbird [188802] recorded by Bob McGuire; Henslow's Sparrow [189892] recorded by Randolph S Little. 
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org    May 2018   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#    song-12-2015-05-07          song-12

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