[Mnbird] Odd vocal habit

Lois Willand loiswilland at gmail.com
Sat Jun 19 17:19:54 CDT 2021


I'm impressed with Steve's first post, and his detailed description of the
robin's song.  Obviously a serious bird person, who's a good fit for this
list!
Lois Willand
Minneapolis, Prospect Park

On Sat, Jun 19, 2021 at 3:05 PM DONALD GRUSSING Owner via Mnbird <
mnbird at lists.mnbird.net> wrote:

> Many Robins improvise on the "basic" Robin song in a variety of ways. And
> the compositions sometimes vary with the time of day, and even the weather.
> A Robin near us often sang a much different song prior to a storm or
> drenching. It is odd that your guy doesn't throw in a little variety of
> other robin basic melodies from time to time. It is fun to rise with these
> birds and hear the many variations on the basic Robin theme in a
> neighborhood at dawn.
>
> Don Grussing
> Minnetonka
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "mnbird" <mnbird at lists.mnbird.net>
> To: "mnbird" <mnbird at lists.mnbird.net>
> Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2021 1:48:04 PM
> Subject: [Mnbird] Odd vocal habit
>
> I’ve never posted to this list before, so it’s somewhat embarrassing
> that my inaugural post would concern what many would consider a rather
> mundane species. Here’s the skinny:
>
> All this spring I’ve been hearing a bird song near our house (Ramsey
> County, St Paul, Hamline-Midway) that I could not quite place.  It is
> (mostly) a three-note sequence with tones roughly matching the “drink
> your tea” of a towhee, although more abrupt than a towhee and without
> the trill on the final note.  At times the three-note sequence is
> followed by two quick tweets of roughly the same pitch as the final of
> the trio. This morning I finally wandered over to see if I could
> discover who was singing.
>
> The bird was clearly visible, singing proudly from a nearly bare branch:
> an American robin.
>
> Although the tonal qualities of the song are somewhat robin-like, the
> song is (in my experience) not at all what I associate with a robin.
> There’s none of the 2-5 warbling repetitions before switching to another
> phrase that’s typical of robin song.  No “cheer up, cheerio.” No
> agitated “chirp-chirp, cluck-cluck.” No swooping “whinnie” call.  This
> bird only repeats the three- (or five-) note sequence over and over with
> a ten-second interval between songs. The other oddity is that the bird
> continues to sing all day long.  In general, the other neighborhood
> robins are back to their mostly dawn & dusk routine.
>
> Not to make too much of the towhee comparison, but it has occurred to me
> that, when the two rapid notes are tacked on to the usual three, it
> almost sounds as if a bird without the equipment for a flutey trill were
> doing the best it could with a faux trill made of short, distinct notes.
>
> For anyone else interested in this curiosity, performances can be heard
> daily at the intersection of Lafond and Syndicate in St Paul.
>
> I am, of course, curious to know if others have ever made similar
> observations.
>
> Steve Claas
>
> claa0002 at umn.edu
>
>
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