Monday, 24 March 2014

Bird dialect

It's Spring and the birds are singing their hearts out! It's the best time of year to start learning bird song, as the summer warblers are mostly yet to arrive (though I have already heard a chiffchaff, which thoughtfully sings its own name over and over).

Birdsong can be very tricky to learn, after all they only sing between late February and mid July, leaving you half the year to forget what they sound like!

To complicate matters, some birds have dialects, depending on which part of the country they come from. The chaffinch is a bird renowned for its dialects. I've noticed that although in Edinburgh chaffinches mostly sing either 'ginger beer' or 'how are you' at the end of their short song, in nearby Musselburgh, they almost all sing 'Scooby Doo'.

The yellowhammer is a bird I had never thought of as having a dialect. However, the Yellowhammer dialect project put me right on that one! This fascinating project is studying the development of dialects in yellowhammers in both the declining UK population and the thriving, introduced and almost a pest population in New Zealand. People in the two countries are encouraged to record yellowhammers in the field and send the recordings to the project. You can find out more about the project and how to take part here. It's a great way to make people more aware of yellowhammers and to contribute to an intriguing study into bird communication!

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.

7 comments:

Caroline Gill said...

A fascinating post - and a valuable recording project, Juliet.

nmj said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous!

Bill said...

Fascinating stuff.

far from home
listening to a chaffinch
I miss the chaffinch

eileeninmd said...

Great post! What a surprise that birds can have a dialect.. Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

Rabbits' Guy said...

I know about 6 bird songs! Good to capture as many dialects as possible ...

dosankodebbie said...

What fun! I'm not surprised about the dialects, though. That fact inspired an etegami once. You can see it on RedBubble> http://www.redbubble.com/people/dosankodebbie/works/10244647-bird-caller-v-2

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love the song of warblers!! They are the opera singers of the bird world :)