One of the most notable battle this morning wasn’t truly a battle.  An Eastern Towhee and a Song Sparrow were both singing from a tree right outside my place as I came back from my run.   The towhee didn’t last all that long (quitter!), but the Song Sparrow kept singing for quite awhile, loud and vibrantly.  I’ve seen Song Sparrows on and off over the past few months, so this guy is most likely a year-round resident who is ramping up his mating season theatrics.

Song sparrows are not year-round residents everywhere you find them.  In fact, they apparently show a great deal of variation in their tendency to migrate.  The tendency may vary regionally and also vary from year to year in response to different weather patterns.

Davis, A. and P. Arcese.  1999 An examination of migration in Song Sparrows using banding recovery data. North American Bird Bander 24: 122-128.

Now the fun part of this little fact brings us back to the song that my little bird was belting out.  If these birds don’t migrate AND since these birds learn their songs from fathers and neighbors, then we would tend to expect the formation of local dialects in the birds.  I haven’t done these comparisons around Freedom Park yet (emphasis on yet), but other people have looked at the tendency of Song Sparrows to share songs with their neighbors and found that it does, indeed, happen.  Individuals tend to share more song characteristics with their immediate neighbors than they share with individuals from farther away!   If this sort of pattern happened in humans, then being born into a family and a neighborhood where people spoke with a southern accent might cause you to speak with one, too.  Imagine if that happened!  (Yes, a bit of morning sarcasm…’cuz it DOES happen!).

Anyway…song neighborhoods in song sparrows!  Cool!

Wilson, P.L., M.C. Towner, S.L. Vehrencamp.  2000.  Survival and song-type sharing in a sedentary subspecies of the Song Sparrow.  Condor:  102:  355-363


About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
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