The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong

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The Singing Life of Birds includes a compact disk with ninety-eight carefully chosen tracks that correspond to the sonograms.

This provides an opportunity for readers to hear the sounds and see them illustrated simultaneously. As spring and summer oscillate between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, so, too, does this singing planet pour forth song, like a giant player piano, in the north, then the south, and back again, as it has now for the million years since the first birds appeared. Ten thousand species strong, their voices and styles are as diverse as they are delightful. Some species learn their songs, just as we humans learn to speak, but others seem to leave nothing to chance, encoding the details of songs in nucleotide sequences in the DNA.

Of those that learn, some do so only early in life, some throughout life; some from fathers, some from eventual neighbors after leaving home; some only from their own kind, some mimicking other species as well. Some species sing in dialects, others not.

Donald Kroodsma - Wikipedia

It is mostly he who sings, but she sometimes does, too. Some songs are proclaimed from the treetops, others whispered in the bushes; some ramble for minutes on end, others are offered in just a split second.


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Some birds have thousands of different songs, some only one, and some even none. Some sing all day, some all night. Some are pleasing to our ears, and some not. It is this diversity that I celebrate. Why do some learn and others not? Why do dialects occur in some species and not others?

Other references of great interest include:

Why is it mainly the male who sings? In writing about our singing planet, I can focus on only a few of its voices. The thirty stories told here are personal journeys, ones that I have traveled over the past thirty years in my quest to understand the singing bird. Many are based on my own research and are years in the making. Definitive, but not very readable.

Waterfall-Forest Nature Sounds-Birds Singing-Soothing Sound of Water-Relaxing Birdsong-Mindfulness

I have used oscilloscopes in premed physics; I have graphed impedance and The Singing Life of Birds is a summary of thirty years worth of study on bird singing. Glancing ahead at the book, I thought it looked way more detailed than I would care about and I would just skim As a research scientist, he published widely on birdsong for more than 50 years.

How to Listen to Birds

He lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Donald Kroodsma. Read stories of wrens and robins, thrushes and thrashers, warblers and whip-poor-wills, bluebirds and cardinals, and many more bird.


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Learn how each acquires its songs, how songs vary from bird to bird and place to place, how some birds' singing is especially beautiful or ceaseless or complex, how some do not sing at all, how the often quiet female has the last word, and why. Listen to the mockingbird by night and by day and count how many different songs he can sing.

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