Several years ago, I read a very interesting article in Birder's World magazine (or was it WildBird?)  about bird vocalizations.  It explained that many species of birds spend up to a year after hatching just listening to the adults of their species to learn the song.  Then they spend more months practicing and fine-tuning their song until it sounds just right.  Actual studies have been done, recording young birds' songs over a period of time as they refined their tune.

And, yes, certain species have an innate ability to sing the right song: Brown-headed Cowbirds and even Northern Mockingbirds which do have their own particular call, and some others that I don't remember.

Susan Eaton
Kirkwood, St. Louis CO., MO
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On Tue, May 20, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Bill Eddleman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
They must have innate vocalizations, because male cowbirds have a unique and distinction vocalization, as do females. They do not imitate their foster parent's song.


At 03:19 PM 5/20/2008 -0500, Gail Ahumada wrote:
Just returned from a vacation on St. Croix (a first), and, while watching
frigatebirds, bananaquits, pearl-eyed thrashers, etc., was asked by a new
acquaintance about bird song.  She said, "When a parasitic bird, like a
cowbird, lays its eggs in the nest of another species, what songs do the
baby cowbirds sing; and how do they learn their songs?"  That is, do they
sing some innate cowbird chatter, or the songs of their foster parents,
or what?

And I said, "I have no idea!.  But I bet I know some folks I can ask."

So I'm asking.

Gail Ahumada
St. Louis  MO

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
List archives: https://po.missouri.edu/archives/mobirds-l.html

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
List archives: https://po.missouri.edu/archives/mobirds-l.html