UrsulaV (ursulav) wrote,
UrsulaV
ursulav

There is a bird outside doing an absolutely spot-on imitation of a rotating sprinkler, a series of ticking chirps and then a long run of clicks as the sprinkler ratchets back into position. I don't know enough about birdcalls to know if that's a normal bird call for some species that just happens to be uncannily like a sprinkler, or if it's something like a mockingbird, who are notorious for expanding their repertoire. Regardless, it's hysterical. Even the timing is pure sprinkler, but there's a chirping quality that's bird all the way. I'm sitting in the studio grinning until my cheeks hurt.

One wonders what the point of adding sounds to mimics is. In a lot of birds, birdsong is learned--raise a bird in isolation and it sings gibberish--but they learn some fairly specific songs, albeit with regional variations. But the birds who just add noises--evidentally whole swathes of starling populations have picked up cellphone ring tones in Europe--why? They wouldn't have any particular meaning, the way that an alarm call does in a wren, they'd just be a familiar noise. I assume it's probably some kind of "I have a huge song! You know you want some!" thing, without any particular encoded meaning. I know ornithologists have wrestled with this for ages. I just find it neat.
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