They usually belt their song from the treetops. Or shrub tops. In plain view of any females who might be listening. After all, the eye appeal goes with the ear appeal to make the total impression. Not this guy. He blew his pipes hidden in the foliage. Maybe he felt something was wrong with his looks? Or that his song was so powerful he didn’t need to show himself? Or he was just practicing, knowing no females were near? Whatever the reason, he intrigued this photographer. I heard his song loud and clear but could not find him. Finally, by climbing a little ridge and balancing precariously, I spotted him in the dense leaves and filmed a minute of his performance.
Scientists have studied the song of the male White-crowned Sparrow with as much fascination as the female sparrows do. In a seminal article in the journal Evolution, Myron Charles Baker found that different populations of these sparrow males sing different song dialects, and that they learn these dialects from the neighoring males, not just from their nest father, in the first few weeks of life.
These sparrows also attract scientific interest for their ability to stay awake — to go without sleep — for two weeks or longer. Research has focused on how this quality could be transferred to humans in occupations requiring long-term alertness, such as truck drivers or workers on rotating shifts.