Thanks Klas. Interesting, though the Bullfinch was not the particular
instance I had in mind.
My recollection is that the learned song was transmitted through the wild
population and had this curious effect: that after some years the further
away you got from the original site the truer was the rendition. The tune
was being culturally transmitted reasonably accurately, but then in any
particular location, it deteriorated with succeeding generations.
> From: Klas Strandberg <>
> Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 18:48:50 +0200
> Subject: Re: [Nature Recordists] Mimicry of human music - RFI
> Some 20 years ago I saw on TV, (from Max Plank Instutute??) how they tought
> Pyrhulla pyrrhula to sing German folk songs.
> As I remember it, the conclusion of this research was that some birds could
> sing the song you tought them, (within limits, of course) - some others
> could learn different songs as long as they all fitted into a special
> pattern, while a third group only could sing the song which was typical for
> the spec.
> At 17:33 2003-08-31 +1000, you wrote:
>> A non-recordist friend recently asked me in a letter whether birds ever
>> imitated human music and whether composers ever copied bird-song. The
>> latter I can answer at length, (having corresponded with Olivier Messiaen
>> when h ewas alive), but not the first.
>> There is a story of a lyrebird chick raised in captivity and learning to
>> sing by copying flute music. He was later released and his "flute" songs
>> were taken up by that lyrebird population. That's the story. It's been
>> disputed. I think it probably did happen.
>> But somewhere in the distant past, I'm sure I read of something similar
>> happening in Europe. A Blackbird, maybe. And I think it was documented in
>> some scientific journal. Can anyone help me please, with a reference?
>> Syd Curtis in Australia