Want to Come Up and See My Hatchlings?

Just read a WIRED article (Don’t Knock the Birdbrains) about how a group of scientists are studying songbirds (finches and canaries)to understand how they “manage to be among the only species that learn how to make new sounds.”

Why is this important to humans?

Scientists at this week’s annual Society for Neuroscience convention in San Diego said research into bird songs can lead to greater understanding of human speech and the mysteries of how animals develop new neurons and memorize things. It helps that bird brains are small, leaving few places for singing abilities to hide.

But, of course, it all comes down to the pick up line:

Indeed, mating is the main motivation behind birdcalls, although they can also help birds declare their territory. Typically, only male songbirds sing — although in some species females and males sing duets — and they often develop repertoires of hundreds of songs. Why? “The more you sing, the more the female is stimulated. But females get bored,” said Marler, the UC Davis songbird pioneer. “If you can switch from song to song, that’s much more interesting.”

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