Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Chaotic Cardinal song

Most of us know how a Cardinal song should sound.  Sure, there are a number of variations, and we'll be exploring these in a future post.  We may not have as clear an idea of how it shouldn't sound, but this would certainly qualify:

He was singing right outside the Visitor Center at the Holden Arboretum in Lake County on February 13th.  I was puzzled!  He looked like a mature adult in his vibrant, red plumage accented by a bright, orange bill.  But this chaotic mess of a song was even more bizarre than the Song Sparrow I had heard the week before!

He should have sounded like this Cardinal that I recorded a few years ago at Euclid Creek in the Cleveland Metroparks:

Or perhaps he would have limited his song - at least for a while - to something like this song I recorded at Holden in 2010:

But instead, he included a a collection of Cardinal phrases and quite a few random approximations.  You may also be able to hear some call-like notes that sound almost as if he is spitting at me.

A female Cardinal stopped by his bush for a few minutes, and then continued on her way. He has a LOT of work to do and not a lot of time to perfect his repertoire!

And what about the young Song Sparrow whose unformed song attempts we listened to in the last post? I caught up with him again on February 25th and he has made progress!  He's not quite there yet, but his song now has much more distinct phrases. If this were his midterm exam, I would be quite optimistic that he'll be ready for his final exam when the females return.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! There are short sections where he's a bit reminiscent of a Gray Catbird muttering to itself in the depths of some twilight shrubbery. Maybe many of these birds are as confused as we are by the rollercoaster weather. Thanks for the post.