On the Song of the Wood-Warbler

Published on 01 July 1908 in Main articles

I N May last, while availing myself of a very good opportunity of observing a Wood-Warbler in full song my attention was ealled to the fact that this bird has two distinct songs. As I do not remember to have seen this fact recorded in works on British birds, I thought it possible t h a t a few notes on the subject might prove of interest. Of course, everyone knows that in the songs of accomplished vocalists, such as the Nightingale and the Song-Thrush, many distinct phrases are utilized in a variety of combinations, b u t in the case of the WoodWarbler there are two distinct songs, which bear no resemblance to each other, either in tone or phrasing, and which, when the bird is singing well, are very rarely mixed. The first of these is the ordinary song, which needs no description here. The second song, which is much rarer than the first, varies considerably in different individuals as regards the number of syllables, though the tone is constant. I n the case of the first bird I had under observation, on May 16th, it consisted of from 9-12 syllables–the average number in this case being 10. I t is sweet, and rather plaintive in tone, falling gradually from F sharp to E flat, or possibly D. [This interval I am not certain about, as I verified it on the pianoforte from memory only.] I n character it resembles to a certain extent the ecstatic ” tail-end

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