This Little Bird Might Be A Better Musician Than You

If you, like millions of other nature lovers, enjoy songbirds every spring, it may be because their tunes are more like human music than you realize.

At least, that’s the case for one songbird: the hermit thrush. With populations ranging from Vermont, where it’s the official state bird, all the way to Alaska, this pint-sized songbird has been noted by naturalists since the 19th century for its flute-like calls. Walt Whitman wrote of its “victorious song,” and the Netflix series “House of Cards” even name-checked the bird last season. But is the hermit thrush really musically gifted, or are people just listening for the tunes they want to hear?

Recently, a team of researchers, using computers that early bird watchers never dreamed of, analyzed 71 thrush recordings made all around North America during the past half century.

In findings published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they conclude: The same mathematical principles that dictate the scales used in nearly all human music can also be found in the notes the hermit thrush chooses to sing.

“The current study provides the first conclusive evidence for a musical scale in birdsong, at least in one species,” said —> Read More Here


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