Daily Nature Diary

Daily Nature Diary 3: Birdsong

My friend Mollie asks: “why do birds that hang out near water have ‘uglier’ calls than the birds we like to watch congregating in our trees?”

Mollie lives in downtown Chicago, just a few blocks away from Lake Michigan. To break up the days stuck inside, she’s been running on the beach and watching the squawking flocks of Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) roaming the empty shores. Meanwhile in Virginia, I awoke to the dawn choruses of Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus), Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis), and Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia).

It’s an excellent question. Why do songbirds sound prettier than shorebirds? In response, I’ll consider three different perspectives, all fascinating, all non mutually exclusive.

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