Don’t Make Me Lower My Voice!

Song sparrow (photo by John Beatty)
Song sparrow (photo by John Beatty)

4 June 2015

When observing songbirds closely, I sometimes notice that a bird is singing softly.  He sings his species tune but he’s whispering.

Among American robins I’ve seen soft song used in courtship but with song sparrows it’s not a sweet activity.

In a study conducted by Duke University, researchers found that song sparrows use soft song only in aggressive male-on-male interactions.  In fact, “the amount of soft song produced is the only singing behavior that can be used to reliably predict a subsequent attack by the singer.”

In other words, if a male song sparrow stops shouting he’s really angry.  “Don’t make lower my voice!”

Click here to read the study.

(photo by John Beatty. Click on the image to see the original)

4 thoughts on “Don’t Make Me Lower My Voice!

  1. Fascinating. We witnessed a hummingbird ‘fight’ while in Seattle. I had no idea they were so territorial.

  2. That is very interesting. Thanks for sharing Kate. It would never have occurred to me the difference in the sounds of their voices.

  3. Hi Kate,
    Grew up in Pittsburgh, now live just outside Toronto.
    Check out this site:
    Peregrine-foundation.ca for falcon activity in the Toronto area.

  4. 🙂 Nice & Interesting.
    I once read an old saying :
    “The louder we yell, the less we are heard” .

    Thank you.

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