Time to learn a new tune

Spiegel Online has a news item about the responses of birds to new tunes.

Elizabeth Derryberry, a biologist at Duke University in North Carolina, compared recordings of sparrow hits from 1979 to those of 2003 and found that the newer songs have a much slower rhythm and dip further down into the lower registers. And upon playing the different versions to hip, modern-day sparrows in a variety of areas, she found that today’s birds are much more into current chart hits than those of 30 years ago.

The 20 males that heard Derryberry’s two recordings reacted much more aggressively to the new tunes, ready to defend their territory against the crooning interloper. And the chicks? They responded by becoming more open to sexual advances when the new music was played. The oldies didn’t turn them on at all.

“I’m not saying a female bird won’t respond to an old song, but not as much as she would to the newer version,” Derryberry told the newspaper the Daily Telegraph. “They regard the old songs as not as interesting, not as good as the new ones.”


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