A Song for APRIL 10

Click the sonogram to hear and see the sound.

Blue Tits are little chickadee-like birds that are very common in the woodlands and gardens of Europe. This particular male was singing especially vigorously on a pretty spring morning in Chartres, France. This cut has been edited slightly but accurately represents his use of several song-types, repeating each many times. The first of these is reminiscent of the chick-a-dee calls of Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees. The second song-type, which begins at 0:26, is similar to the first, except that the couplet of polyphonic dee notes has been replaced by a long string of short whistles. These notes are similar to (but higher than) those produced by the closely-related Tufted Titmouse on April 05. The third comes at 2:38. Each note is a brief dee, but they are presented in triplets, reminiscent of the singing of Juniper Titmice. The fourth song-type, at 3:05 is the same at the first, except each ends with a single dee note, rather than two. Both the variation and uniformity are essential characterisitcs of singing by birds. Many perform as though (1) to show as large a repertoire as possible, while also (2) making sure each song-type is recognized by repeating it many times. See yesterday's Varied Thrush for comparison.

The family Paridae (chickadees and titmice) is found all over North America, Eurasia, and Africa. Its representatives are frequently among the most common birds in their areas. North America has the genera Poecile (chickadees) and Baeolophus (titmice). Eurasia has six genera, four of which colleagues and I studied in China. The Blue Tit's genus (Cyanistes) is not represented in China, and 4/10/1999 was my first chance to record it. It was thrilling.

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