There are robins everywhere now. You’re supposed to make a wish when you the spring’s first robin. I won’t say what my wish is, because then it won’t come true. 😛
Anyway, I was taking for granted the quiet and peace of my dad’s neighbourhood. His house is far away from the noisy city noises that I’m so used to now, but I go there fairly often, so I ceased to notice how nice it was. Manyk’s previous comment reminded me, and I appreciate it again.
My point is that one of my best memories of childhood is of listening to juvenile robins learning to sing. I got to hear a lot of robins while growing up, and noticed they have three main calls. One is a warbling song that they sing when they’re feeling safe and happy, usually while perched high in a tree or on a telephone line. The second song is a “tut! tut! tut!” that they chirp when they’re warning a predator or other threat in their territory. The third song is a shrill and defiant cry that they call as they’re flying away from danger. It’s sort of a, “You scared me off this time, but I’ll be back!”
Juvenile robins seem to learn the warbling song as they grow up. Every year the young robins learn a slightly different song. Each one sings a recognizably robin song, but it always changes slightly from year to year. It’s funny to hear their little voices breaking, and occassionally slipping into a baby, “Peep!” like they’re going through puberty. Sometimes they screw up the song and stop, then start from the beginning again. I spent a lot of time as a child learning to play the piano, and I identified with these young singers, whose songs would strengthen in volume and confidence as spring progressed into summer.
Strangely, all robins seem to make exactly the same second and third songs. I guess their happy songs can have variation because they serve no purpose other than to express the enjoyment of singing; the second and third songs are warning signals, and have to be universal robin-speak. Fun stuff.
Update: I found this website about robin songs where you can hear what I was talking about. Seems like the robin makes a few different sounds that I never noticed, like the “seeeee!” song that they make when they spot a hawk or other aerial threat, and “zeeeup!” that they sing while migrating. I guess I never observed them at these times, so I didn’t hear the songs. 🙂
i remember reading and studying robin songs in linguistics, in particular the discussion about language development, and how robins have to learn their songs while young, or they will never be able to catch up. like humans.
i don’t even know how robins look. i wonder if there is a russian variety or name that i don’t know knowing.
its so cool that you played piano too! maha’s entry also talks about that. funky.
This page has some pictures of them 🙂
the happy song can be used as a mating thing, so it’s beneficial that each robin can impart a bit of individuality into their song.
but the warning calls are specific for predators, and it’s key that all the other robins know what’s up.
Chickens have different alarm calls for over head predators and on ground predators… and I had a prof in undergrad who could do an amazing imitation of them 😀
haha yeaay cute little tiny birdies are fun 😛
awesome entry kev
I was sitting on my front porch today … STARK difference from your dad’s place. I could pick out the birds yes, but the city noise was overwhelming in this area.