Ground‐dwelling species use low‐frequency vocalizations. In dense forest habitats, ground‐dwelling birds like this Great Tinamou (Tinamus major) have evolved low‐frequency songs, optimized for transmission near the ground.
David L Ross, Jr., Macaulay Library
Communicating with calls. Some species, like the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), communicate with calls rather than songs. (A) This species’ buzzy “bzeee” call is easily distinguishable from (B) its high, hissing “seee” call.
(A) “Bzeee” call
Gregory F. Budney, Macaulay Library
(B) “Seee” call
Wilbur L. Hershberger, Macaulay Library
Female calls in Red‐winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). Females of this species use aggressive “cheer” calls to warn other females to stay away. The spectrogram shows the call’s short, whistled elements.
Randolph S. Little, Macaulay Library
A complex song. The song of the Musician Wren (Cyphorhinus arada) is among the most melodious of bird songs.
Curtis A. Marantz, Macaulay Library
Songbirds learn their songs.
(A) Adult sparrows sing songs that they memorized early in life. (B) White‐crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) nestlings raised without exposure to adult songs develop abnormal songs. Note: These appear in the animation in opposite order from book.
Geoffrey A. Keller, Masakazu Konishi Macaulay Library
Oscine song development requires exposure and practice. In songbirds, song learning often begins in the nest, but song development is not completed until later. In Bewick’s Wrens (Thryomanes bewickii), newly fledged males choose a territory, where they are exposed to the songs of their neighbors.
(A) Young males begin practicing the songs of their new neighbors shortly after dispersing.
(B) After much practice, an individual’s song matches those of his neighbors.
Local dialects and song development. Young male Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) gradually transition from singing song components developed on their natal territories to songs that match the details of their territorial neighbors. Compare the virtually identical songs of (A) one territorial adult and (B) his neighbor with (C) a conspecific recorded in a different neighborhood.
(A) Territorial adult
(B) His neighbor
(C) A conspecific recorded in a different neighborhood
Geoffrey A. Keller, Macaulay Library
Matched countersinging. Male Marsh Wrens (Cistothorus palustris) engage in singing contests in which one male matches each song type sung by the other, while cycling rapidly through multiple song types.
Thomas J Sander, Macaulay Library