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Naturalists Learn the Science of Bird Song

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
April 29, 2005

Naturalists Learn the Science of Bird Song

Bluebird IllustrationBird song was the subject of the most recent monthly meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) held at the Almonte United Church on Thursday, April 21.

With the aid of slides and sound recordings, Dr. Bruce Falls, noted ornithologist and scientist, shared with his audience a scientist’s perspective on the world of bird song. “We enjoy hearing birds, but their songs are really directed at other birds”, he explained as he began his in-depth presentation. A retired professor, Dr. Falls spent his career teaching and performing research at the University of Toronto’s Department of Zoology, where he was involved in pioneering studies in bird behaviour.

Introduced by MVFN host for the evening Rod Bhar, Dr. Falls began his talk by explaining how birds produce their songs. He illustrated some of the unique physical adaptations that allow birds to produce sounds. He also reviewed some key experiments that led to our current understanding that bird song is both learned and inherited by the members of individual species.

In the last half of the presentation, Dr. Falls explained why birds sing. He explored some of the studies that he and others have been involved in that show how male birds use song to mark their territories, attract mates, and scare off intruders.

The talk was followed by a question and answer session. Members of the audience came away from the presentation with a new perspective on the complexities of bird song and how it forms an essential part of the survival and reproductive strategies of many bird species.

Mr. Bhar thanked the speaker and presented him with a gift basket of local herbal products.

Coming up in the near future is MVFN’s 17th Annual General Meeting, to be held at Union Hall on Thursday May 19th. The general public is welcome to attend. Feature of the evening will be a sound and slide presentation by noted local photographer Bill Pratt.

Other programme items include canoeing Contstance Creek, led by Rod Bhar on Sunday May 29 and a walk in the natural world of Mer Bleu, date to be announced. For more information on MVFN and events, go to the website

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