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. 🙂