December and January are considered as the season of music and dance in South India. Margazhi (Tamil month from the middle of December to the middle of January) is famous for festivals of music. Bajans of Hindus occupy the early hours of days and music concerts called ‘Katcheri’ fill the air in the evenings of these winter months.
Birds of nature also join with humans during this period to extend musical notes to express their pleasure. Of all the creations on this earth, it is said that only two creatures can sing. It is the ‘homo sapiens’ and the birds. Researches and debates are still going on about which other animals can sing.
Birds of songs
Almost all the living creatures make use of their vocal cords to make some noise or sound. Elephants trumpet; cats mew; dogs bark; crows caw; doves coo; birds chirp; and the list goes on. But only a few birds can sing. We call those birds songbirds. Other birds just make simple vocalization. Their song repertoire id very limited.
Birds learn songs from others
It is stated that parrots and hummingbird learn new ‘songs’ by listening to others. Those who have parrots as pets know about this. Almost half of the bird species are said to be able to sing new songs involving phrases that they make on their own. The analysis of the brain circuits of some song birds a remarkable similarity with those of the humans.
A wonderful experience with a white-crested laughing thrush
January issue of “The Scientist, a publication from the US, states that Dr. David Rothenberg of New Jersey Institute of Technology visits the Pittsburg Aviary, where 600 different varieties of birds are housed, and plays his clarinet there. It further says that one particular bird, a white-crested laughing thrush, starts singing along with him, note for note and phrase for phrase. Dr. David says that he can communicate with birds in this way because they both share a similar appreciation for music.
Songs bring together sexes
What is the purpose of the birds singing their songs thousands of times throughout the day? According to conventional scientific wisdom, these singing birds attract their mates for sex. They use their songs to identify individuals, establish territory boundaries and of course for sex. The song bird is essentially territorial in that it communicates the identity and whereabouts of an individual to other birds and also sends its signals of sexual intentions. They try to impress mates with their songs and proclaim their territories.
Foreplay of the bird singers
When the song birds sing in chorus, the song may seem to be quite complex. It is a sexy trick of these song birds. It is believed that a female might prefer a male with a complex and longer lasting song pattern than a ‘dull bird’. It is a kind of foreplay established by these birds for mating. They enjoy the rhythm of songs and this innate pleasure and aesthetic pursuit leads them to mating.
Scientific world is yet to study a lot of these behaviors of birds and animals. But one thing is certain that God wants His creation work to be a continuation of Eternal Music.