American RobinC Watts/CC BY 2.0

American Robins are Classic Songbirds

The American Robin is a great species to get to know. The species is widely distributed and many other birds are said to have robin-like qualities.

As Found in the Field

When you watch a bird sing, you can make a mental connection between its song and the matching beak movements. It’s a little like lip reading—or should we say beak reading— and some people find that it helps them commit song patterns to memory. We’ve included an As Found in the Field video with each featured species for those of you who are visual learners.

Eric S. Liner/Macaulay Library

How to Talk About It

MnemonicCheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up
TempoDelivered quickly, but with long pauses between phrases
PitchRises and falls with each syllable
RhythmA series of several steadily repeated phrases
RepetitionAround four to eight whistled cheerily or cheer up phrases
Tone QualityClear-toned, pretty, melodic, caroling, wavering, and whistling

Learn the Sound Pattern

Listen to another American Robin song, this time paying attention to the pattern and tone quality of the notes. The song is a string of 10 or so clear whistles assembled from a few often-repeated syllables.

Wilbur L Hershberger/Macaulay Library

Song Spotlight

Now let’s revisit our soundscape but this time focus on just the American Robin.

Photo: Ryan Schain/Macaulay Library. Audio: Gregory F Budney/Macaulay Library

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