Animal tracks and thoughts about Why Birds Sing
By Veronica Kittle, Duck(s), Frog(s), Raccoon(s), Bird(s) and Dog(s)

Started on: 04/24/13 20:30:27
Medium: Visual

In class this week, we took a stroll around the lagoon and beach exploring our surroundings, paying a little extra attention to the details. The goal was to find evidence of animal life. The most interesting things that I found were the animal footprints in the mud along the lagoon trail. I found tracks of what appeared to be racoons, a dog, and birds (possibly ducks?). We also came across several sizable holes in the ground that were created by some animal, my guess is rabbit. We also heard the frogs croaking from far away. Their combined croaks were so loud, but when I peered through the shrubbery I couldn't find a single frog. I managed to record some to save for possible incorporation into a project. What was interesting about all of these findings is that they were all signs of animal life without the animals being present.

I have been considering doing a collaboration with birds by recording them and then creating some form of music from that. I got the idea a few weeks ago from my own bird who loves to sing. I also take many walks throughout the trails around campus and the bird whistles are hard to ignore. I did not realize that we would then watch a movie about bird song in which this idea was actually carried out. It was an amusing movie that centered around a debate between scientists and artists about the purpose of bird song. The scientists argued that the birds sing for two reasons only: to attract a mate, and to defend their territory. The artists argued that while that may be the evolutionary cause of the singing, that the birds sang also for joy and to create music. I understand that the scientists were upset that the artist was making claims about birds without putting them through the rigorous scientific testing that the scientists do. This is something that unfortunately, scientists have to deal with regularly. Controversial topics such as evolution, the effectiveness of vaccinations, and global warming are based in facts backed by science, yet they are challenged by those who believe their unscientifically proven beliefs are just as valid. This can be infuriating for scientists (and me), so it is understandable that they would be so insulted by the artist's argument regarding bird song. However, I do think that the scientists in the movie dodged the issue of whether or not the birds could be singing for joy. That is something that apparently has not been tested (and would probably involve some complex analysis of neurotransmitter levels that I would have no idea how to do). Observation of my own bird, Poca, seems to support the idea that birds enjoy themselves while singing. I have noticed that Poca has different little noises or whistles that she makes for different things such as when she greets me, when I give her a treat, when she takes a bath, and when she plays with her bell. I assume that these are things that give her joy, and the resulting whistles seem to be her way of expressing it.

dog paw print

raccoon tracks

bird tracks

Rabbit hole

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