Hearing Test

Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia)

If you can hear this bird’s high-pitched trill, you’ve probably got young ears. Those of us who belong to the senior persuasion can’t hear it. I want to blame the microphone, but the maker says it goes up to 20k, so that won’t fly. A little later in the season maybe this bird’s pipes will wear out or enlarge and it will sing a song audible to humans of all ages. The first individual in the video actually sings closer to my audible range. The next one goes to the next level, and the third one could be lipsynching for all I can tell. Not that the bird cares. It’s singing for other Song Sparrows that have ears perfectly tuned to its romantic message.

In some bird species, including this one, the males and the females travel separately. The Red-winged Blackbird males, for example, hold forth with their come-hither tunes in the fennel forest in the northwest corner of the park weeks before the females arrive. It’s all about being the first to claim a high perch at the center of one’s own territory. Song Sparrows are known to be territorial, and in many cases return to the same spot year after year. This bird perches atop a Coyote Bush, one of a string along the northern edge of the park, on the water’s edge. The second one perched about a hundred yards further west in the same region. The third one held forth on the edge of the Native Plant Area on the west side of the park. Shrubs are a preferred location for nests, which may be on the ground in vegetation, or up a few feet in bushes and small trees. But nest building is the female’s work. The male sings. The female works. That’s the way of these birds.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

More about them: Wikipedia Cornell Audubon In Chavez Park

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