Scientist were puzzled why male great reed warblers would spend their winters in South Africa singing for no apparent reason, but now they may have an answer: they are practicing their flirting!
When the male warblers travel south for the winter, scientist expected them to spend most of their time quietly foraging (searching for food) and waiting for spring to return; instead, they found that the birds spend a lot of time and energy singing. The warblers can make 40-60 different sounds, which they combine in unique ways to compose their songs. According to the scientists, singing uses 1.5 times the amount of energy the birds use at rest, takes up time that could be spent foraging, and risks attracting predators. At first the researchers thought the extensive singing was a threat display to protect their territory, but they found that the birds were singing courtship (or love) songs which are distinctly different from the shorter territorial songs. After extensive observations, they concluded that the birds sing during the winter to practice attracting female warblers, who prefer males with more elaborate songs.
So don’t feel bad if you find yourself rehearsing pickup lines in the mirror this Valentine’s day! Birds have to practice to!
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencenews.org/article/why-some-birds-sing-elaborate-songs-winter?tgt=nr
Feb 5, 2016