Nature’s Artists – Enchanting Singing Birds
Transmitting directly from the bird kingdom I shall begin the periplus in this kingdom by carefully observing the amazing way in which they choose to release the singing notes into the air. They may be doing this either at night or at day, either to defend their territory or to court the female bird. Much like men used to perform serenades to women in ancient times, hoping that the woman would surrender and reward him with a kiss. As you already probably guessed involving courting endeavors, the singing is mainly the attribute of male birds, but females may as well be gifted with this special attribute.
You may sometimes wonder why do they spend so much time and energy developing a quite wide repertoire at times, yet this is precisely what makes this world even more amazing and unique. Did you know that their singing manner is actually what helps the other birds distinguish those strangers invading their territory? Much like it happens with us and the voice recognition. Yet, the situation is somehow different because birds need to defend their territory, thus making sure that they would be able to survive and protect their family as well.
Defense purposes and courtship ones are quite different situations and as such they need different approaches. Now, let’s think about the situations when you tried to conquer the heart of a woman and you used all kind of “weapons” to accomplish this. Singing birds have as their only “weapon” the enchanting chirping sounds and as such they make full use of them. When trying to conquer a female bird, male birds usually make use of longer and more elaborate songs. They manage to conquer us and as such it comes as no surprise that they manage to conquer their fellow birds as well.
Surprisingly or not, the wider the singing repertoire of a male bird is the more tempting they seem to females. This may come as no surprise to many of us since it happens in real life too, in our life I mean to say, when women generally choose endowed men to spend their lives with, regardless if we are talking about physical or intellectual endowment.
But, as we all probably know what happens in human life I shall continue my periplus in the bird life. What better way to speak about singing birds if not by mentioning the amazing warbler? Did you know that when it comes to reed warblers the females choose their mating partner after a long and careful selection? Of course the singing repertoire is to be brought again into discussion since this seems to be the defining argument in the choice females have to make. Surprisingly enough females will spend several days listening to the songs of the males, being some kind of spectators at the showing-off of males, before deciding which one is the winner as far as the perpetuation of species is brought into discussion. Did you know that when it comes to duration and complexity of the songs the sedge warbler is by far the winner in all the rather complicated plethora of singing birds? So complicated that it is even said that the same male rarely repeats the same song twice in its life! This clearly is enough to make it special. It seems that their song is made of more “notes” if I may say so and that it possesses the ability to place these notes in such a manner that they never sound the same. This probably makes these birds some sort of great composers too since not only that they sing divinely but they also manage to bring a note of distinction in each of their songs. Did you know that when it comes to vast repertoires being displayed in front of female birds the vastest is the one belonging to the brown thrasher? It is the one which displays over 2000 songs. Given the fact that we are talking about a bird the number is quite significant, don’t you think so?
As such, it is no wonder that all these birds with a vast repertoire come to mate earlier than those that do not excel in their singing qualities.
At times, it surely looks to many of us as if birds were some sort of supreme masters of the musical notes in their almost permanent attempt to make known to their fellow birds the fact that they might need to approach their potential mates or perhaps that they might want to protect their territory and scare off possible predators or rivals at times. It looks like they want to communicate to each of these birds which are part of their lives such messages as “Go away!” or “I’d be enchanted if you’d get closer!”
And what better way for them to manage to do this if not by releasing those sometimes enchanting sounds! It has been said that according to the environment in which they live they too managed to define their songs, much like it happens in the case of humans as we all know that songs may help persons deliver a certain message and at times that message transmits the very things that characterize a certain environment. If it were for you to think about let’s say jazz and country music, don’t you think that in fact environment managed to influence to a great extent these two musical genres? Or better think about rap and popular music and as such the situation may become clearer.
What is there in their structure that makes birds such gifted artists at times? For certain they seem to possess a much more complex vocal apparatus than us humans. In case you didn’t know it is the syrinx that helps them produce those thrilling twittering and chirpings. It all depends on the muscle quality of the syrinx. For certain they are able to come out with a wider and more complex variety of sounds than we are capable.
Have you ever wondered why most birds sing at dawn? It must be because the sun rise makes them feel happy or because it is perhaps the only period of the day characterized by a perfect silence and as such they may not want to sing in vain but make their chirpings well heard. But just imagine the competition being triggered among so many singing birds, all of them performing at the same time. This must be the reason why at times some birds wait for each other to finish and only afterwards indulge themselves in singing their own songs. As such, at times you may hear various birds’ songs alternating at some given time intervals. This comes for many as quite an amazing organizing element in bird life. Which birds manage to do just this without entering into any conflict? The answer involves the names of the wrentit and the Bewick’s wren, which sharing the same habitat and having almost the same songs seem to have come to an understanding and agreed upon the fact that alternating their songs is by far the best solution for them.
Perhaps the best time to sing is at night when everything seems to be veiled in some kind of overwhelming silence and of course this is just the right moment for some birds to dominate the area by means of their enchanting songs. This is certainly the case of the nightingale, a bird which surprisingly enough is said to have developed a vast repertoire which comprises at least 300 songs meant to be used for courtship purposes. Isn’t this amazing? I honestly consider it to be so.
Have you ever wondered which are the birds which manage to make their intentions known by means of loudness? Most of us haven’t done this as most of the time we simply enjoy their joyful chirpings and find the loudness sometimes annoying. Rumor goes that the lyrebird is the bird which takes the first place on a dais as far as loudness is brought into discussion. But as far as loudness is concerned the lyrebirds is clearly found in competition with the bittern which keeps on singing loud enough to make himself heard in order to catch the attention of female birds.
Have you ever envisaged birds as possible impersonators? Probably not, since we sometimes seem to be unable to give them enough credit, labeling them as mere birds and nothing else. Yet, they do just this; they mimic the calls of the other birds and as such manage to increase their own repertoire. If I am allowed to say this, I’d say that they somehow arrange the notes in such a way that they make those songs sound different. Which birds manage to do this? Well, the list is pretty long and comprises such names as the mockingbirds, lyrebirds, starlings, marsh warblers, African robin-chats and even mynahs. Did you know that the lyrebird has the amazing ability to imitate 12 other birds? I do not know about you but I find this amazingly interesting and surprising at the same time.
Did you know that the warbler migrating to Africa during winter as the temperatures seem to be friendlier there, are able to mirror the calls of other 70 species of birds? It looks like they use this amazing ability in order to tell their females more facts about the way they had spent their winter. Much like we do when our husbands or our boyfriends come home from work or perhaps from a long journey. I am just kidding and I cannot but hope that you noticed this.
I find it amazing how the female black-headed grosbeak manages to use her singing ability in order to scare her so called “husband” and determine him to come home; this happens mainly because as they both take turns in incubating the eggs, the male sometimes loves to play truant and keeps delaying the turning back moment. It is precisely why she finds it appropriate to imitate the rather intricate song of a male grosbeak and as such makes the male think that a possible rival approached its territory. This in fact determines it to hurry back home to its eggs.
Isn’t this funny and amazing at the same time?
How about singing in duet? Did you ever think this could be applied to the bird world as well? I didn’t, but I found out that the animal world can offer one innumerable surprises.
Duetting can be quite helpful in the case of birds as it helps them keep in contact with each other and as such better defend their territory and their family as well. There are numerous such examples in the bird world starting with the veritable chorus realized by the Australian magpies and continuing with the lyre tailed honeyguide. In most of these cases these duets blend together in what resembles one single song. At times the duet is nothing else but a mating ritual as it happens with the Whooper swans which engage themselves in what looks like a love duet. You most certainly were able to see such duets in documentaries and if you happened to be lucky enough in real life too. It looks more like a duet performed on the stage by two singers and as such it turns out to be even more unique and amazing.
As a conclusion I may say that I find the world of birds amazingly beautiful and that they attract our attention not only by means of their sometimes colorful plumage but also by their thrilling and melodious songs as well. The sound of birds singing has been mentioned on numerous occasions as being one of the most relaxing sounds and as such we should learn to appreciate those creating these sounds even more. Don’t these sounds have a calming effect on you too? Most surely they do, yet it happened that in most cases we were unaware of their musicality and nice tempo. What if we learned to discover all these things! We’d most certainly come to love the birds releasing these sounds as well!11