Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why Does the Songbird Sing? #Science

The Rockhouse is again mildly apologetic over this one since it will go into how magicians get rabbits inside top hats but there's something good at the end of it since there's something else in the hat.

Eastern Yellow Robin. Credit: Wikipedia.

The Rockhouse thought robins always have a red breast ... but ... see, that's what happens when you take good Eastern robins and send them West.  They turn into Red Kummernists.  It's science.  It binds us all.

Fair warning as this is kind of a drag and kind of isn't.

Juvenile birds discriminate and selectively learn their own species' songs even when primarily exposed to the songs of other species, but the underlying mechanism has remained unknown. A new study, by researchers at Uppsala University, shows that song discrimination arises due to genetic differences between species, rather than early learning or other mechanisms. The results are published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Phys.org:  Genetic differences across species guide vocal learning in juvenile songbirds

The songbirds didn't learn it from Mama.  That's kind of a crusher when every love song we ever heard goes out the window but it's also kind of cool since their songs are in their genes.  That almost certainly doesn't mean there's any kind of musical waveform stored in the DNA but there must be the mechanism which makes them able to sing it and, maybe even better, makes them want to do it.

Pursue the original article if you like but that's the primary point the Rockhouse wanted to pull from it.

The extension is what we like since the songbirds sing but may not even have much awareness of it beyond, well, this will end up with a nest with some eggs which is bird goodness.  That's nicey nice but that isn't why you sing, is it.

There's a mile in poetry which opens behind this since you're one of the few who can choose to sing because it fulfills something much more than filling a nest with eggs and you may not even know what it is any more than I have any idea why playing a guitar has been so important to me.

Ed:  we're all caged birds?

Roger that but some of us do know how to escape and nothing will keep those birds in cages.

This mustn't drift too far from the #Science tag since it's not so good if the edges blur in that way.  However, in this situation it's practically inevitable.  You can throw out a single question which will invite volumes of answers ... but most of them will be poetic in nature.  In fact, I will throw out that question.

Why sing?

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