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Birdsong and a Summer of Research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies by Josh Rieskamp
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Birdsong and a Summer of Research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies by Josh Rieskamp

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  • 1. Birdsong and a Summer of Research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Josh Rieskamp, Centre College, Class of 2015 Research Questions Introduction to Veery Song How many song types do veeries use? Why Does the Songbird Sing? 1. To attract mates 2. To defend territories How many notes make up their songs? How do songs vary within repertoires? What is a Song Repertoire? There is incredible diversity in bird song, both between species and between individuals of the same species. Scientists study this diversity by cataloguing the song repertoires of bird species, which is the entire range of distinct song types that members of the species are known to use. The song repertoire of an individual bird includes only those songs within the larger species repertoire that the individual bird knows and uses. “Reading” a Veery Song Phrase 1: Introductory Note Phrase 2: Repeated High Frequency Notes How do songs vary among repertoires? Veery Song Modification: Repetition/Addition The “typical” version of the song type A modified version of the same song type in which an additional note is placed in Phrase 2 as well as an additional note in Phrase 3. Veery Song Modification: Translocation Phrase 3: Repeated Low Frequency Notes and “Trill” The “typical” version of the song type A modified version of the same song type in which the final Phrase 3 note of the “typical” version is shifted to a higher frequency and placed as the second note in Phrase 2. Method Dr. Belinsky (my mentor) recorded over 1752 songs from veeries living on the Cary Institute property during the summer of 2009. I created sonograms of every song using Cornell University’s RavenPro software. For each song, I recorded the song type, number of notes in each song, and temporal and frequency measurements. Results and Implications Individual veery repertoires ranged from 1 to 3 song types, and most individuals used only a single song type. However, veeries used a lot of modified variations of their single song type. These modifications fell under four main categories including additions/repetitions, deletions, translocations, a nd frequency shifts. Compared to other bird species, veery song is complex and the differences between song types are subtle. Some Highlights of the REU Program: The Plant Science Building Pete Seeger’s sloop Clearwater Field Day with elementary students Bacon Flats