Neil DeGrasse Tyson: What if somebody called you a birdbrain? Wouldn’t that be an insult?
Ofer Tchernichovski: Oh, great compliment! The bird brain is a very good brain.
(‘Why do birds sing?’, 2008)
Montaigne noted: “Even among wild birds, songs are not equal to each other; all birds learn according to their own skills.” (1580) and Charles Darwin recorded young males birds practising song for nearly a year (Descent of Man, 1871). Researchers have been studying Great Tits for more than 50 years in an Oxford oakwood. The birds show personality, that is to say individuals “have consistent behavioural tendencies”, some are risk takers than others, some were more aggressive, others were better socialisers and others more promiscuous, others better musicians.
Birds have no vocal-cords, instead, they use the muscles and membranes in their throats – specifically the syrinx. I was searching for the rarest bird in NSW, the Rufous Scrub-bird, up on Mt Killcrankie (New England National Park) – it came within a couple of metres but remained hidden in the undergrowth, sure made a racket though. Rufous Scrub bird (rare & very noisy)