Birds, Like Humans, Sing Just Because They Can
I read about this in a Natural Awakenings magazine [Sept 2010]
Gives new meaning to the term “Bird Brained.”
It has been determined that birds not only sing to communicate daily needs, but many engage in sound play, most often when they’re alone, but sometimes also when people are around.
Some bird species continually improvise and embellish their singing with new elements, phrasing and sequences. For example, nightingales and canaries are avian virtuosos, reinventing their song repertoire each year. The brown thrasher is said to have around 2000 song types – a record. Nightingales organize their compositions according to rules of construction similar to the way humans use syntax [the arrangement of words and phrases]. Nightingales also create distinctive phrases that identify them as individuals.
Recordings or Australian magpies reveal how the bird’s voice covers four octaves, varies its phrasing between staccato and legato, and embellishes sequences with vibrato, trills or deep overtones. More, it will complete a song with a signature phrase, much like an artist initials a finished painting.