General, Research, Technology

The evolution of bird singing: Sparrows in Canada have learned a new "song"

Perhaps the most melodious animals of ourplanets are birds. After all, it is their singing that we hear during walks in nature - beautiful twittering is already directly associated with calm and tranquility. And each species of bird has its own songs, which are constantly being improved and turned into peculiar hits of the bird world. Bird lovers regularly record song of feathered creatures and post it on the Internet, due to which it recently became clear that over the past 50 years, white-chilled sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) have noticeably changed the way they sing. First, a new song arose in Canada, and then spread to different parts of the world. This is almost the same as the distribution of a musical hit in the world of people.

Meet this author of the new “bird hit” - the white-necked sparrow

Bird singing

To store records of birdsong, information about theirquantity and other interesting data, there is a special eBird library on the Internet. A group of Canadian scientists, led by processor Ken Otter (Ken Otter) took advantage of online recordings of bird singing and studied the sounds of 1785 males of white-chipped sparrows. In the recordings of the 1950s, these creations almost always ended their songs with three notes, such as “ta-ta-ta”. But somewhere between 1960 and 2000, some individuals began to finish their singing with only two notes, “ta-ta”.

White-chilled sparrows do not live with us - they live in Canada and the northeastern United States

Do other song styles changespecies of birds, researchers do not yet know. To do this, again, you need to rummage in the library with recordings of birds singing for different years and compare them with each other. Perhaps this way you can even understand what the birds are singing about. After all, it may well be that they use some songs to attract females, and completely different ones to warn of danger.

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Nightingale singing

Perhaps the most beautiful song among birdsnightingales. These creatures the size of a sparrow winter in East Africa, but with the onset of warm days they fly to Russia. They lead a very secretive lifestyle, so it’s almost impossible to see how they sing. But finding out their songs is not a big deal, because they often mix whistling parts with rumble, click, and other interesting sounds.

The fact that the Internet has a whole library withvarious information about the birds, there is nothing surprising. After all, these are truly amazing creatures that are stupid only at first glance. At the end of 2019, I talked about how a dead end bird from the Icelandic island of Grimsey uses a stick found on the ground to scratch feathers on its chest. Ravens also know how to use improvised tools, because they use sticks to extract insects from the ground. It seems to be something banal and uninteresting, but to observe all this in nature is very funny.