Tag: Music

Africa

I like birds. I also like 80’s music. So I thought it would be fun to combine the two and write another song parody. My work as a naturalist at the World Bird Sanctuary involves interacting with a wide variety of birds. One of my favorite birds to care for is Wookie, our African Grey Crowned Crane. Crowned Cranes are large birds with long legs and have a set of golden feathers on their head that resembles a koosh ball. These cranes often put on mesmerizing displays during the breeding season. A crane might honk, dance, leap, and spread its wings during courtship rituals. Wookie is a special bird because she has performed in zoo shows before; flying across a stage to land on a stump. She got her name because her grunting sounds similar to the wookies from Star Wars. One of my favorite 80’s songs is “Africa”, by Toto. I now present to you my version of “Africa”, featuring crowned cranes.

Image result for african grey crowned crane  Related image

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Wookie

AFRICA

I hear the calls echo in the night

As she trumpets with a voice that drowns out quiet conversation

She swoops down in a graceful flight

Her moonlit wings reflect the light that guides me towards salvation

I stopped to watch her start to sway

Hoping to see her long neck as she danced to playful melodies

She turned to me as if to say, “Hurry boy they’re waiting there for you”

 

It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you

There’s nothing that hundred geese or more could ever do

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

Gonna take some time to stroke the feathers on your head

 

The Wookie cries out in the night

As she grows restless longing for some active human company

I know that she won’t really bite

As sure as giant meatballs rise like Olympus above some fresh spaghetti

I seek to watch her gracefully glide, heightened by her wings she starts to rise

 

It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you

There’s nothing that hundred geese or more could ever do

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

Gonna take some time to stroke the feathers on your head

 

*Musical Interlude*

 

Hurry boy they’re waiting there for you”

It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you

There’s nothing that hundred geese or more could ever do

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

I kiss the cranes crowned in Africa

Gonna take some time to stroke the feathers on your head

 

 

 

A Song About Vultures

Vultures are often misunderstood. Commonly called “buzzards” (which are actually hawk species in Europe and Africa), and sometimes dismissed as trash birds, vultures are actually cool birds that help the environment. When an animal dies, vultures often feed on the carcass. Their stomachs are equipped to break down bacteria and other dangerous elements that would harm humans or other wildlife. The spread of diseases such as anthrax are limited due to the effectiveness of vultures cleaning up decaying animals. This is a song about the life of a vulture. 

Desi

Hanging out with my friend Desi the Hooded Vulture

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Turkey Vultures

Some cool vultures! Clockwise from top left – King Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Indian Vulture, and Lappet-faced Vulture.

 

                                                          Carrion Out in the Sun

                       (Sung to the tune of Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas)

Chorus

Carrion out in the sun
Tasty creatures that can’t run
I will clean up all this mess
Then I’ll find some more

Verse 1
Once I rose above the cars on the highway
Just to look at all the deer headed my way
I was soaring ever higher, rising in the sky
Though I have a beak I don’t call but just hiss
I’m a bird of prey that cleans up a carcass
I’m here to stop all the diseases, I will save the day

Chorus
Carrion out in the sun
Tasty creatures that can’t run
I will clean up all this mess
Then I’ll find some more

Verse 2
If you think I’m ugly there is a reason
All the baldness keeps me cool every season
And when my head gets really dirty, at least my feathers might stay clean
When the weather’s nice I bathe in the sunlight
Clean my feathers and I’m ready to take flight
The rising air means there’s a thermal; time to soar and save the day

Chorus
Carrion out in the sun
Tasty creatures that can’t run
I will clean up all this mess
Then I’ll find some more

Bridge
Carrion, I can puke when there’s danger
Carrion, get away from me stranger
Now my stomach’s feeling empty
Time to look for something new

Chorus
Carrion out in the sun
Tasty creatures that can’t run
I will clean up all this mess
Then I’ll find some more

 

What Does the Fox Really Say?

A few years ago, the Norwegian duo Ylvis used a combination of techno and electronic dance music to produce a viral video about what a fox sounds like. Now their hit was obviously written in jest, but what does a fox actually sound like? What about a moose? What bird is commonly used for jungle sounds in movies? What creature can mimic car alarms? This blog will examine some interesting sounds in nature, while providing some fascinating facts and stories along the way.

Red fox in snow, side profile  Red fox cubs at den entrance

You may be familiar with the fact that foxes are Canids and are related to dogs. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to focus on the Red Fox, which is commonly found in North America, Eurasia, Australia, and even portions of northern Africa. Red Foxes are  not picky eaters, and will consume rabbits, hares, small mammals, birds, eggs, grubs, fruit, carrion, and even trash! They adapt fairly well to a variety of environments and utilize dens for sleeping and raising young. Their bushy tails are capable of sensing underground movements through specialized hair sensors located near the tip. Okay, I made that up. So what does the fox say? Red Foxes can make some high-pitched barking noises and squeals. During the mating season, a fox may produce some unearthly screams to communicate with a partner. Males are called dogs and females are called vixens. Check out the clip below to hear some fox sounds!

Red fox carrying brown trout prey

Foxes sometimes go fishing.

Most moose calls sound similar to cow calls, with some deep bellowing and grunting. Moose are often found in forests close to water and enjoy munching on plants and twigs. Moose are the largest living species of deer, with males capable of growing up close to 7 feet high (not counting the antlers) and weighing over 1400 pounds! Apparently moose are often called “elk” in parts of Europe and Asia, which makes me wonder what name people use for elk. Anyway, do you know what my favorite moose is? White Chocolate Moose.

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If you’ve ever watched a movie that was set in the jungle, you’ve probably heard the call of the Laughing Kookaburra. Kookaburra are members of the esteemed Kingfisher family and are native to Australia, living primarily in eucalyptus forests. They have a loud, powerful call that has been described as sounding like human laughter, hence their name. The calls are used for territorial purposes and are often used near dusk and dawn, earning kookaburras the nickname “Bushman’s Clock”. Unlike some of their relatives, kookaburras do not usually eat fish, preferring to feast on small birds, mice, reptiles, and invertebrates.

Laughing kookaburra with prey in beak

Laughing kookaburra family group

There is a lot of laughter when the family gets together.

Finally we come to the Superb Lyrebird. I’m not sure if this bird can mimic a lyre, but it is capable of some astonishing imitations, including chainsaws and car alarms! Native to eastern Australia, lyrebirds are quite large for songbirds, with males capable of growing to lengths of over 3 feet. Males have large tails with fancy feathers and plumes that are used in courtship displays. Superb Lyrebirds generally eat invertebrates and are often found in eucalyptus forests, much like kookaburras! Some researchers believe that the size of a male’s vocabulary may indicate fitness and impact his attractiveness to females. Check out the cool video below to watch and listen as a male lyrebird performs his imitations! You’ll also get to hear kookaburra calls!

This is just a small taste of the wonderful symphonies found in nature. Hopefully you’ve learned something and don’t have that catchy song about foxes stuck in your head. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attract some attention by mimicking a chain saw.

Superb lyrebird

Hungry Hawks

If you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I enjoy using my passion for wildlife and my pun-making skills to write song parodies. Last year, I posted a parody titled “Bird of Paradise” based on the Coldplay song “Paradise”. Now I’ve decided to mangle improve another Coldplay song using birds of prey. Before we get to the song, let me talk to you about Chukars. Chukars are partridges that are native to Eurasia and were introduced to the western U.S. as a game species. They forage around the ground, primarily feeding on seeds and grains. This song is about a hawk who hunts many animals, but ultimately longs to feast upon a tasty chukar. Coldplay, I apologize for using one of your most famous songs in this way. Enjoy!

ChukarImage result for northern goshawk

Left – Chukar. Right – Hungry Northern Goshawk.

Hawks (Based on Coldplay’s “Clocks”)

The kites come out and I can’t be saved
Winds that I tried to fly against
Have blown feathers into my beak
Oh I want, I want to eat a grebe, singing

Come out to the ducks and bread
Tear the wing off a redhead, and a,
Cardinal that can’t be named
A raptor’s waiting to be tamed, singing

Chukar Chukar

Confusion among the flocks
The screeching calls of the hungry hawks, gonna,
Scare prey back to its home
Why can’t they stop, the jay and crow, singing

Watch out O chickadees
Scold missed opportunities, should I,
Fly now to the fields
Or should I wait up in the trees, singing

Chukar Chukar
Chukar Chukar
Chukar Chukar

And now I just eat hares
And now I just eat hares
And now I just eat hares

Chukar Chukar

Home, home, where I wanted to roam
Home, home, where I wanted to roam
Home, home, where I wanted to roam (Chukar)
Home, home, where I wanted to roam (Chukar)

Bird Christmas Carols

Those who know me well, know that I occasionally like to use puns. Because of my experiences as an avian biologist, many of my puns involve birds. I’ve posted in the past about things like honey nut vireos, little grouse on the prairie, and victorious egrets.  Because Christmas is this Sunday, I decided to re-write the titles of some famous Christmas carols with a birdy twist. Feel free to smile, roll your eyes, shake your head, or groan. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting about fun animals again soon!

  1. Frosty The Snowbunting
  2. Deck The Macaws
  3. God Rest Ye Fairy Wren Till Then
  4. We Three Kinglets
  5. Rudolph The Black-Nosed Killdeer
  6. Carol Of The Bellbirds
  7. O Holy Kite
  8. Silent Nighthawk
  9. The First Whimbrel
  10. Lark The Herald Angels Sing

 

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Resting Superb Fairy Wren (Picture by JJ Harrison)

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Left – Frosty the Snowbunting. Right – (Holy) Red Kite

Catching Birds

Apparently 3 summers of chasing after birds in southern Indiana wasn’t enough for me, as I’m currently helping with a project studying Worm-eating Warblers and banding birds in areas where all the trees have been harvested (clearcuts). There are some really cool things about the clearcuts, such as a multitude of thorny shrubs, exposure to the hot sun, and venomous rattlesnakes which hide in the net lanes. The diversity of birds which forage or move through these habitats is surprisingly high. I’ll share some cool pictures and talk more about the birds in another blog. For now, I’m going to talk about Cerulean Warblers, which are beautiful birds that are listed as threatened in many states. These warblers tend to utilize portions of the upper canopy, making them difficult to see. Several of the friends I’ve made here are working on a project with these warblers and chasing after them in an effort to find nests and capture males. The captured males are then tagged with a geolocator that can track the movements of the males and provide information about the habitats used, including wintering grounds. Cerulean Warblers are challenging to study and capture, so in honor of a recent victory (3 birds captured in one day!), I wrote another song parody using the popular song “Titanium”.

 

Cerulean (To the tune of David Guetta’s Titanium)

Verse 1

I shout it out, and not a word you hear me say

I’m singing loud not saying much

Raise the noise, but all your playback ricochets

I’m chipping now, not saying much

Chorus

I’m in the trees, flitting around

Fly away fly away

Then you try, to track me down

Fly away fly away

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

Verse 2

Hear me zeet, but still you cannot find my nest

The canopy, has many leaves

You lift your eyes, but I just fly the other way

You hurt your neck just looking up

Chorus

I’m in the trees, flitting around

Fly away fly away

Then you try, to track me down

Fly away fly away

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

Bridge

Blue flash, quick zeet

Crane your neck and try to see

Blue flash, I keep flying pa-a-a-a-a-a-a-ast

Chorus + tag

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

You set the net, but I won’t come

I am Cerulean

 

 

Chasing Birds

I enjoy spending time in nature and chasing after birds. In fact, I like it so much that I’ve spent the past 6 summers working on projects studying birds. My master’s research was on American Kestrels, which are really cool falcons that you can read about in my previous blogs. Besides following birds, I also enjoy pushing through shrubs, getting stabbed by thorns, bitten by ticks and chiggers, and walking up steep hills in hot weather. Nothing says I love nature like having your legs covered in cuts and insect bites.

One of the cool areas I’ve gotten to participate in, is radiotracking. Birds (and other animals such as bats) can be caught and fitted with a radio transmitter. This is set to a specific frequency which can then be picked up by a receiver. I can then track down where the birds are at in the woods (or clearcut full of thick shrubs and thorns) and use that information to learn about how birds are moving around and utilizing different habitats. Because I enjoy writing song parodies, below is a song I wrote about this subject titled “Radiotracking”. Sorry Imagine Dragons, I promise not to use any of your other songs for at least a week.

(On the left is one of the birds I’m currently tracking – a Worm-eating Warbler. They don’t actually eat worms, but instead prefer caterpillars and butterflies. On the right is a young fledgling)

Radiotracking ( to the tune of Radioactive, by Imagine Dragons)

I’m waking up with the sunrise,

The whip-poor-wills and the pesky flies

I’m breathing in the pollen spores

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then driving out in the pickup truck

This is it, the pot holes are hit

Whoa

I’m homing in, the beeps are quick

Look for the bird, I found a tick

Welcome to the bird age, to the bird age

Welcome to the bird age, to the bird age

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking

 

I walk the path and climb the hills

The birds call out, with chips and trills

Is there a nest, or has it fledged?

Whoa

I’m breaking through, the clearcut brush, pushing fast cause I’m in a rush

This is it, I am getting bit

Whoa

I’m homing in, the beeps are quick

Look for the bat, I feel a tick

Welcome to the bat cave, to the bat cave

Welcome to the bat cave, to the bat cave

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking

BRIDGE

All systems go, signal hasn’t died
Birds and bats move, where did they fly?

I’m homing in, the beeps are quick

Look for the bird, I feel a tick

Welcome to the bird cage, to the bird cage

Welcome to the bird cage, to the bird cage

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m

Radiotracking, radiotracking