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vocalization

Swan Song

The idea of the "swan song" recurs from Aesop to Ovid to Plato to Tennyson. Ovid described it, "There, she poured out her words of grief, tearfully, in faint tones, in harmony with sadness, just as the swan sings once, in dying, its own funeral song." But it's based on a sweet fallacy - that a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth, vocalization

Tune Up Your Ears - East

By March in the East, cardinals and other songbirds that don't migrate are already singing heartily to attract mates. Many other birds - including this Yellow Warbler - will return north from the tropics in April and May, announcing themselves in song as soon as they arrive in nesting areas. Now... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Turkey Calling - Real or Unreal

Preston Pittman won his first turkey-calling contest when he was only 16, and he makes the sounds with his mouth. Sadler McGraw uses the "friction" technique. He pulls a "striker" - almost like a screwdriver - across a crystal surface. It sounds for all the world like a Wild Turkey, and it won... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, vocalization

Bird Song ID

Roger Tory Peterson, the best known American figure of 20th Century birdwatching, offered help on birding by ear. Whenever he could, he provided a catchphrase to identify a bird's song. "Witchety-witchety-witchety" captures the song of this Common Yellowthroat. The California Quail seems to say, ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, sound, vocalization

What Bird Has the Coolest Song?

There are more than 10,000 species of birds in the world, and each has a unique song. When we recently asked, "Which bird makes the coolest sound?" over 50 species were nominated! So which bird received the most votes? The Common Raven landed at number three, with the Western Meadowlark just... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Early Spring Songs (Bay-area, California version)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in California are American Robin (left), Fox Sparrow, and Wrentit. Listen to the songs of these birds, plus thousands of others at Cornell University's Macaulay Library website. Learn more... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (South Texas)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in south Texas are White-throated Sparrow, Cassin's Sparrow, and Purple Martin (left). And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the songs of these early spring... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (SE Alaska)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the SE Alaska are American Dipper (left), American Robin, and American Tree Sparrow. Listen to the songs of these early spring songsters and thousands of others at Cornell University's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (Washington State)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the Northwest is this House Finch, whose sweet, jumbled song carries along city blocks and rocky canyons. And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the song of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Spring Brings New Bird Songs

All winter long, our neighborhood House Finches--like this one--have called to one another with their distinctive, sweet cheeps. And our resident Song Sparrows, with calls that sound like a tiny barking dog. But as the days grow longer in late winter, the lengthening light helps trigger a bird's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

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