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Blackbird Singing like a Song Thrush!?

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Old Friday 10th March 2006, 20:52   #1
RockyRacoon
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Blackbird Singing like a Song Thrush!?

Today I was on my paper round, I was delivering to a house, and suddenly, (it was 07:30 in the morning) realised a Song Thrush nearby was singing from a bush. I looked up, and saw the bottom of a male Blackbird, i thought the Song Thrush could be on the other side of the bush, so I walked around; - Nothing, the Blackbird had its beak open, it appeared to be singing, and I am 80% sure that it was the Blackbird that was singing, exactly a Song Thrush song. Is this unusual? Why was it doing this?
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Old Friday 10th March 2006, 22:44   #2
da2m
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake .
Today I was on my paper round, I was delivering to a house, and suddenly, (it was 07:30 in the morning) realised a Song Thrush nearby was singing from a bush. I looked up, and saw the bottom of a male Blackbird, i thought the Song Thrush could be on the other side of the bush, so I walked around; - Nothing, the Blackbird had its beak open, it appeared to be singing, and I am 80% sure that it was the Blackbird that was singing, exactly a Song Thrush song. Is this unusual? Why was it doing this?
they are related arn;t they so they could imitate. but most bird can mimic sounds around them so it might be that your blackbird listens to alot of thrushes. starlings are well known for mimicing sounds. i have heard them do car alarms and other birds.
anyone else agree?
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Old Saturday 11th March 2006, 00:38   #3
lachlustre
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Blackbirds (and thrushes, and all other songbirds) *have* to learn their songs from other individuals. While starlings, among others, are famous for mimicking other species, occasional mimicry is recorded from many species. One article I read a while ago (Helb et al, 1985, Zeit. Tierpsychol.) did a review and found really that most species learn their songs from the wrong species occasionally (up to 1% of the time, mostly). Blackbirds have been recorded as mimicking articifial sounds like car alarms, so it is not implausible that they could mimic thrushes.

Why do birds do this? For species like blackbirds, nobody really knows, to be honest: because it is a rare phenomenon, it is difficult to collect much data. Regular mimics like starlings tend to pick up surprising sounds in their environment. In this case, the theory is that females are also attracted by weird sounds, and the males that sing them get laid more frequently. On the other hand, if you sing a song that just sounds like a car alarm, well the birds aren't trying to attract car alarms! Mimicking birds still have to make sure that females of their own species recognize them, particularly since song is often the first point of contact between male and female. So there is this balance between incorporating weird new sounds, but making sure that you are still recognized. Regular mimics have tricks to manage this: starlings put their mimicked sounds in between segments that are very stereotypical and starling-like. Perhaps your blackbird decided that a thrush song was blackbirdy enough to suit his needs.

Blackbird songs normally consist of a combination of loud fluty whistled notes at the beginning, followed by a quieter twitter at the end. The current thinking is that the quiet twitter part at the end is actually the really aggressive part. Current research is looking at the idea that blackbirds sing different songs that are more or less aggressive by varying how much twitter there is in their songs. So maybe the songs you were hearing, which presumably lacked the twitter part were part of the bird's less aggressive arsenal of songs, which he had picked up from a song thrush.

Or not...

Last edited by lachlustre : Saturday 11th March 2006 at 00:51.
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