Birds sing to a different tune

9th May 2008 at 01:00
However much they may preen themselves, some birds have a tendency to give themselves away when they open their mouths

However much they may preen themselves, some birds have a tendency to give themselves away when they open their mouths. Don't you think?

Put it this way: while some screech in a high-pitched way that makes you wince, others you could happily listen to for quite a long time - their sound being a little "easier on the ear", shall we say.

Before I get a mailbag full of complaints, I would like to point out that I refer here not to the female sex, but to our little feathered friends.

While you can determine whether a person comes from the North East rather than the North West from their accent, or sometimes even pinpoint on which side of the river they were brought up if they are from London, it seems the same is true with our avian companions.

In case you think I am making this up to dig myself out of a very deep hole, let me introduce Dr Peter McGregor from Cornwall College. You have to make your own entertainment in the West Country, and one of his favourite pastimes is crouching in the woods with a laptop, recording bird songs and then listening to them over and over again at different speeds. It seems the songs of the corn bunting (above) are particularly interesting - especially if you slow down the recording when you play it back.

This bird, it seems, has a different accent from one headland to the next. I am pleased to see FE is in the forefront of research. If there are any more such breakthroughs out there, I'd be happy to report them.

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