[CT Birds] Cromwell meadows birds and an observation of behavior.

david bingham dbbingham at sbcglobal.net
Wed May 16 00:21:34 EDT 2007

This is  in response to the several notes that have mentioned how the writer 
is reluctant to "anthropomorphize" the interpretation of bird behavior:
No problem!

There has been a lot of research on bird brains and behavior, and they 
display a whole range of emotions and behaviors that are very "human" (or 
perhaps I should say that humans exhibit qualities that are distinctly 
"avian," since they inhabited the earth long before we joined them).

The scientific tendency to suggest that birds could not have these human 
emotions, and the conclusion that we should not look at birds as having 
parallel interactions that correspond to human ones, was based on 
neurological comparative anatomy of the brain done a century ago. It was 
thought that birds simply didn't have the right nerve structure to have the 
"human" responses. Now it is evident that while the structure of bird brains 
looks quite different under the microscope when compared to humans, birds 
process information in much the same way that we do - i.e., they apparently 
do have the apparatus  present to have emotional reactions to their 
environment that are very much like our own. It is not surprising then that 
they may exhibit jealousy, rage, pride, passion, joy, sadness, etc., in the 
same ways that mammals do.

Do female Grossbeaks make vocalizations that let their mates know they are 
"ready" for sex? I would be surprised if they did not. Their vocalizations 
are made at frequencies so fast that they have ten times more information in 
a short phrase than we do, making it very difficult for us to comprehend. 
But my guess is that one day we will find they are saying much more than we 
have been led to believe.

David Bingham, MD
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Boletebill" <boletebill at yahoo.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 10:12 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Cromwell meadows birds and an observation of behavior.

> After a disappointing AM outing at Sachem's Head, Guilford and then to 
> Hammonassett I drove north to Middletown and swung over to Cromwell 
> Meadows for a look at this under-birded Wildlife Management area.
>     I managed to turn up a dozen species of warblers in the wooded area 
> just west of the parking lot including Wilson's, Maggies, Blue-wing, BT 
> Green, BT Blue, B&W, Chestnut-sided, and the usual common breeders....down 
> the trail at the Mattabesek River (or is it the Sebethe River??) on the 
> mud flats there was Solitary Sandpiper, Pectoral SP, Spotted SP's and some 
> peeps moving up the river out of sight.
>    This spot is well know for Least Bittern but I struck out there.
>  A behavior observation:
>     I heard a RB Grosbeak singing way up a cottonwood and went around to 
> try to find it. After a minute or two it stopped singing and I was 
> standing under the tree out of the sun when a bird flew in over my head. A 
> female RB grosbeak.  She was singing her call note softly..."pink... 
> pink....pink"  Then she sang a primary song, but very softly.  Immediately 
> a male flew in and landed a few inches away.  She sang again and the male 
> immediately copulated with her twice.  This took a grand total of about 9 
> seconds. After the second copulation the female flew away and the male 
> fanned his tail twice, each time kind of shuttering his whole tail section 
> as he fanned the tail feathers out.  He then wiped his bill back and forth 
> across a branch four or five times and then he started to sing.  His song 
> was absolutely ringing out. He sang rapidly, (and I have to say happily,) 
> loud-clear-and-continously for about five minutes. It was awesome, the 
> whole thing. It was impossible not to
> anthropomorphize.
>     I've never seen this behavior before and I felt priveledged to witness 
> this.  SHE SANG TO HIM.  If someone can comment on this behavior with 
> singing females I'd love to hear about it.  Does this occur with other 
> female singers?  Cardinals?
>  Anyway just wanted to share that observation.
>                                                     Bill Yule
> "For those who hunger after the earthly excrescences called mushrooms."
> ---------------------------------
> Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story.
> Play Sims Stories at Yahoo! Games.
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