Sparrows ditch traditional song in favour of new tune in ‘unprecedented’ collective change

Songbirds passing on new melody to others during winter migration, learns study which fitted them with geolocators in ‘tiny backpacks’

Chris Baynes
Friday 03 July 2020 00:43
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White-throated sparrows swap traditional song for new tune

A new musical craze is sweeping across Canada, banishing traditional styles of song to the past.

A once-niche tune previously heard only among west-coast hipsters is now being blasted out the across the country – by sparrows.

In study spanning two decades, scientists have tracked how a rare melody sung by a few white-throated sparrows in British Columbia “went viral” across Canada. The tune, which ditched the sparrows’ usual three-note ending in favour of a unique two-note variant, has spread 2,000 miles across the country – wiping out the bird’s traditional song in the process.

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