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Nature & You: Avoiding donnybrooks is good way to keep feathers unsullied

Can you translate what the birds are saying in your backyard trees? [Thinkstock image]
Can you translate what the birds are saying in your backyard trees? [Thinkstock image]

I'm not Dr. Doolittle. I can't talk to the animals. The best I can do is make an educated guess as to what things like birdsong really mean.

Oh, sure, your average Joe and Josette will offer up the opinion that the birds are singing because they are happy. Maybe it is as simple as that.

But, consider this: Why don't the birds just keep their mouths shut? Why risk the very real possibility that some hungry predator will hone in on their location and turn them into a meal?

Well, birds do have the power of flight. They can always skedaddle if things get too hairy. That only works, however, if the birds keep their feathers in tiptop shape. Birdsong is a loud and proud announcement that the birds have staked out a home territory. If the other birds want to avoid a donnybrook, they had best heed the warning.

Birdsong is that unique mechanism whereby the birds divvy up the outdoor space so they can minimize having to fight.

That, and the fact they purposely sing their little hearts out for my bemused enjoyment!

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›