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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote ® How Much Birds Sing

Air Date: Week of June 15, 2012

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The beautiful male Black-headed Grosbeak, like most songbirds, sings when he’s trying to attract a mate. He stops singing at the end of summer. (Photo: Carla Kishinami)

The average bird regales us with song more than a thousand times a day. Michael Stein reports on the frequency of bird song.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: Well let us now return to more natural sounds….here’s this week’s BirdNote®.

[BIRD NOTE® THEME]

GELLERMAN: Since most birds are social creatures they greet the day with a song. It’s a neighborly way of saying good morning. But the tune depends on the type of bird and time of year. Here’s BirdNote®’s Michael Stein.

[BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK SONG]

STEIN: This rollicking song belongs to a Black-headed Grosbeak.

[BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK SONG]

STEIN: Like most birds, the male grosbeak begins singing in earnest a few days after reaching his traditional nesting grounds in spring.


A Red-eyed Vireo may hold the record for number of songs sung over time. (Photo: Sheila Perry)

[BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK SONG]

STEIN: And, like most birds, he sings frequently when trying to attract a mate. He’ll sing a bit less while he and his mate incubate eggs, but pick up the pace again after the young hatch.

[BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK SONG]

STEIN: By late summer, his singing will cease. Ever wonder how much a bird sings in one day? Some patient observers have shown that a typical songbird belts out its song between 1,000 and 2,500 times per day. Even though most bird songs last only a few seconds, that’s a lot of warbling! On nights with a full moon, male Sage Thrashers have been known to proclaim their long-winded songs all night.

[SAGE THRASHER SONG]


The male Sage Thrasher likes to sing by the light of the silvery full moon. (Photo: Bob Devlin)

STEIN: But the North American record-holder may well be the Red-eyed Vireo. One such vireo delivered its short song over 22,000 times in ten hours!

[RED-EYED VIREO SONG]

STEIN: I’m Michael Stein.

GELLERMAN: To see some photos of the birds whose praises we sang, wing it to our website LOE dot org.

[MUSIC:Andrew Bird “Give It Away” from Break It Yourself (Mom + Pop Records 2012)]

GELLERMAN: Be sure to check out our website for a new feature we call Living on Earth Now: regular updates, news stories and features. Check out the one about the latest research into manmade earthquakes! That’s LOE dot org. And coming up - a world gone wild: climate change and wildfires. Stay tuned to Living on Earth!

 

Links

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of the Black-headed Grosbeak recorded by T.G. Sander; song of Sage Thrasher recorded by G.A. Keller; song of the Red-eyed Vireo recorded by W.L. Hershberger.

BirdNote ® How Much Birds Sing was written by Bob Sundstrom.

 

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