Early spring birding

With the mild winter we have experienced this year, we have noticed that in Surrey at least, several bird species have been in-song since January.

Aside from robins and wrens which sing throughout the year, song thrush, mistle thrush, dunnock, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, goldfinch, greenfinch and siskin
have all been in good voice around our Guildford office at the Surrey Research Park.

This is a good time to learn the songs of such resident species before
the summer migrants arrive to complicate matters!

Some birds make things interesting by mimicking the songs and calls of other species. This year we’ve heard a song thrush mimicking tawny owl calls, blackbird calls and great tit song, within its own usual repertoire of repeated notes and phrases.

Although
bird song is functional in defending territories, and is therefore vital to know when doing breeding bird surveys, naturalist Simon Barnes has an interesting
view: “A song thrush is a repertoire singer: putting together an individual repertoire is by definition a creative act. I don’t suppose the thrush put
the repertoire together by thinking only of sex and territory: the sounds themselves must have their appeal. If we are going to be reductionist about this,
then the simplest way of understanding the song of the thrush is to accept that the thrush is getting a bang from the music itself”.

Image: Tim Felce

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