I was able to check back on both the Holden Arboretum Song Sparrow and the Northern Cardinal we met earlier in this blog. How are their songs developing?
The Song Sparrow is doing quite well! He was still the only Song Sparrow at Buttonbush Bog when I recorded him again on March 10th, and he seems to have already determined and claimed his corner of the wetland. Here he is:
It was another windy afternoon, but his song was strong and resonant. His phrases are now clearly defined with a very believable Song Sparrow pattern, which he repeats with appropriate pauses between each statement. This is substantially better than the rambling, unformed monologue we first heard from him!
The Cardinal’s song wasn’t quite as convincing, although he was singing with what appeared to be great confidence. Instead of being somewhat concealed in a shrub, he was now higher up in a tree. His stage at the edge of the parking lot (near where the trails begin) is not far from where I first met him (next to the Holden visitor center).
He definitely has improved. His phrases are more clearly defined, though he still occasionally rambles and pauses. He’s getting the idea of how to create an actual song, and his singing is much stronger than when he was at the Visitor Center. However, I don’t think he’s quite ready to audition for the females and intimidate other males yet. He’s come a long way, but he needs to keep practicing!
Saturday, March 23rd is the first of my five bird song identification classes at Holden Arboretum this year, and I’ll take my class out to look and listen for these two birds as well as other early-season singers. Wherever you live, listen for songs that just don’t quite fit the expected patterns – you may be hearing young males working to get their performance skills ready for the stage.