Sunday, April 11, 2021

Spring Song

The white-throated sparrows that have quietly spent the winter scratching in the underbrush are now bright faced and singing for spring. Click to enlarge.

    Birdwatchers make mnemonics to help them remember bird songs, mnemonics that mimic the cadence and count the syllables of bird songs. Black-capped chickadees seem to say chickadee-dee-dee chickadee-dee-dee. Brown thrashers sound like they are saying drop it, drop it, pick it up, pick it up. And chestnut-sided warblers politely repeat pleased pleased pleased to meet cha! 

    White-throated sparrows sing something that sounds like Po-or Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody, or O-old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody. North of the U.S. border I’ver heard people  say it’s more like Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada. The song is a loud, clear, attention-getting whistle that stands out among the other sounds of spring: a long note, a lower note, a third even lower note repeated in two or three sets of three.

    People who know I’m a birdwatcher sometimes whistle this song to me in spring, wondering what they’ve heard. Rachel Maddow once recorded it on her Blackberry while walking in the woods and played it on her news show, seeking identification. It is that kind of sound. 

This sentence links to a Cornell Lab of Ornithology recording of a white-throated sparrow singing – click to hear the song. 


Not quite as flashy at other times of the year, but still cool.

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