Nov 21 2013

Driving The Sparrows Wild

Published by at 7:30 am under Vocalizations

Song Sparrow (photo by Bobby Greene)

I love classical music and often whistle the tunes, especially when I'm happy.  Last Saturday afternoon was one of those days.

The weather was warm and overcast as I walked up Nine Mile Run from Duck Hollow to Frick Park.  I was hoping to find a fox sparrow -- no luck -- but was pleased to see a beautiful male American kestrel and a flock of 40 robins.  I found only three song sparrows on my way north.

When I reached the hillside grassland on my way back I remembered the Adagio from Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2 and started whistling the piano solo.

Suddenly song sparrows came out of the underbrush.  They flew through the weeds making little "bep" calls.  I stopped walking and continued whistling.  The sparrows kept coming, flying into the weed tufts.  "Bep bep bep."

I was making good progress through the piano solo though a little squeaky on the high notes because the piano has a wide range and I do not.   Pretty soon seven song sparrows were perched on a sapling in front of me, five more on the weeds nearby and several more flying in to join them.  This was in an area where I'd seen no sparrows on my way north.

At their peak I counted 15.  The sparrows insisted on perching in front of me. All of them made warning calls. They seemed to be saying "Shut up!"

Perhaps they'd heard this good performance of the second movement and knew I was murdering the solo that begins at 0:40 in the video at this link.

I thought I did pretty well with a complex piece but I drove the sparrows wild!


(photo of a song sparrow by Bobby Greene.
music by Derek Han, Piano, Israel Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser.  Adagio from Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 40, Felix Mendelssohn

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Driving The Sparrows Wild”

  1. Gene Hendersonon 21 Nov 2013 at 8:17 am


    Great little story. Keep singing.

    I remember my attempts at pishing to bring in warblers and the only thing I seemed to attract were Song Sparrows. One time I did attract a Wilson Warbler which came within a couple of feet from me. I think I was more surprised than he was that we got that close to each other.


  2. Michelleon 21 Nov 2013 at 9:12 am

    Did you already blog about the Goldbird Variations? There are specific links about playing music for birds & why there are attracted to music, but the whole blog is great:


  3. Kate St. Johnon 21 Nov 2013 at 9:46 am

    Michelle, I blogged about the Goldbird variations and the musicblog on August 6, here –> The difference when I make music is that the sparrows don’t sing in response. Nooooo! They yell at me. I must sound pretty bad.

  4. Janet Campagnaon 21 Nov 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Everybody’s a critic.

  5. Lauren Shafferon 21 Nov 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Will have to try that! Might work as well as playback, and no one can accuse you of stressing the birds! (Well, hopefully not.)


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