Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December songs

Spot the Blackbird subsinging
The sun shone today, a mild December day. A couple of Blue Tits busily searched through the thinner branches of the lime tree in front of the house, while a Great Tit sang enthusiastically between feeding on the trunk and thicker branches.
Later in the day I heard the beautiful, melancholic phrases of a Robin singing. Robins, being territorial, sing almost year round. And then, a mystery song. Quiet, almost whispered twitter coming from well inside a bush. I searched, a male Blackbird, hiding, singing to himself. During spring and summer, Blackbirds sing proud from top of trees, buildings, aerials - which must feel like singing from the top of the world for the Blackbirds of Hull. Somehow the birds in winter have this desire to sing, but cannot/won't do it in its usual way. This song is called 'subsong' and it is not completely understood why they do it. Some people argue it is the start of territory defence, with pair starting to form; others argue the birds are  practicing, as it can happen from young birds. It usually happens when there is plenty of food, and some time to spare, and what better to do with your time than a bit of music?
A singing blackbird in May

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