Birds with songs having 2 or more acoustically dissimilar elements can display them either rigidly (i.e., in the same sequence) or flexibly. Flexible song syntax can be attained either by changing the number of repetitions of elements or by combining elements in a diverse way. The combinatorial syntax has been recognized only in the songs of oscine passerines and in one nonpasserine, but not in the suboscine passerines. The exhaling of the pines is not more communicative of mournful fancies than the sobbing of the little somber-colored Pewee.
Among all the singers of the woodland, he is the sentimentalist twilight and rhythmic songs. The Pewee’s short song of 3 or 4 calls appeals to the human soul, wholly by reason of its apparently emotional nature, not unlike the famous old Irish melody, “The Last Rose of Summer.”
Eastern Wood-Pewee sings, and then after an unreasonably long pause, he adds, peer! Whistle with the acquainted run down the musical scale, just as however somebody stepped on your toe, or you were greatly surprised or shocked. The Tranquility, soothing and leisurely singing, the plaintive calls of the Pewee have been severally described as sweet, pure, relaxing, peaceful, quiet, and unhappy.
If that is done in the lethargic possible manner, the Pewee’s peer is accurately imitated. It is no presto performance, it should be decidedly largo, and when the lowest tone of the scale is touched, and it must be constant for at least a second. Then, for the improve part of the bird’s song, his pee-a-wee, all that is required is to whistle in a very slow, dragging fashion, first a clear high note, then one precisely a fourth below that, and to finish one a minor third above the one last mentioned.
The birds, each phrase occupies one bar, with a quarter rest at the end, hence the rhythm is incessantly throughout the entire composition. Although Eastern-wood Pewee is extremely resembling the Western-wood Pewee, however, birders identified him through its range, vocalizations, and voice.
The Eastern Wood-Pewee does not attempt to hit a note squarely but rather reaches for it with all the sentimentality of the inexperienced and uncultivated singer, capturing us despite his error by the perfect sweetness of his voice. Note how dignified and graceful his rendering is of that familiar but rather flippant aria in Auber’s Fra Diavolo: The Eastern Wood-Pewee takes this juggling more utterly and sings with deep feeling a continuous piece of nature music.
There is an ineffable grace, almost a spiritual solemnity to the little melody when it is sung that way. Whether at matins or vespers the Eastern Wood-Pewee song is always the same, sluggish, peaceful, restful, and meticulously musical. The male bird sings an exclusive note that lasts for 40 minutes at dawn and few times at dusk, probably not so long. You can listen and watch the songs here: moreover, Dr. Wallace Craig (Famous Animal Psychologist) researched the bird’s behavior in his renowned study in 1926.
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