Creativity in Birdsong

April 12, 2012

I’m glad I read the most recent blog posts before adding mine, because it was going to be nearly identical to Justin’s.  The songbirds are certainly out in force, and they’ve been waking me as well. However, I didn’t focus so much on the hi-fi vs. lo-fi soundscapes when listening to them; I did return to the interesting opposition birds have to hearing their songs repeated.  As I heard so many birds singing, I first wondered if sometimes there is a conflict if two “write” the same melody and feel antagonized when hearing the other’s song.  This type of event is common in human culture – people are known to argue over who invented something first, or said something originally.  But do birds feel the same way? Are they so creative that they never repeat themselves unintentionally?  Similarly, I wonder if I had begun to play some recordings of birdsong out of my open window how the birds would react.  It is unlikely that the birds would hear or notice, but the same hypothetical issue of ownership of song arises for me.  I suppose I am essentially wondering if birds are as opposed to “copy-cats” as we humans are, showing a type of jealousy, or at least allowing us to project that emotion upon them.  The limits of birds’ creativity and inventiveness has not yet been discovered, but I wonder where (if at all) it lies, and how the avian populations would respond to the necessary repetition of old songs.

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