Learning from the birds | AspenTimes.com

Learning from the birds

Nice to see that there has been some public mention of the recent philosophical discussion over chickadee songs (Singing a new song, Friday, June 6). Quite frankly, I think N. Thomas and R. Davis are off in their description of the chickadee notes. Perhaps this particular bird sings three notes from A-sharp to G-sharp to G. Not particularly impossible for a chickadee, but rather unusual.

Perhaps Thomas and Davis are referring to a Rocky Mountain black-capped chickadee when they mention a mountain chickadee, black-capped being poecile atricapillus, and Rocky Mountain being poecile atricapillus garrinus. We cannot know without further scientific intervention.

However, it should be noted that the black-capped chickadee is known to have at least 15 different calls. The individual notes are not particularly ingrained into the genus or species as a whole, but the poetic meter seems to be.

My guess is that the chickadees are not learning, but the humans are.

Tony Vagneur


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