White-throated Sparrows are changing their tune: your recordings at work for science

By Kathi Borgmann
White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis

  • Massachusetts, Suffolk, United States

The sweet song of the White-throated Sparrow drifts through forests and meadows all summer long across Canada, the northeastern U.S., and the northern Midwest. Field guides tell us that the song they sing sounds like Oh-sweet-canada-canada-canada or Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody

White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis

  • New York, Hamilton, United States

But, Dr. Ken Otter, from the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues recently discovered that some White-throated Sparrows are changing their tune. Now the sparrows are singing Oh-sweet-cana-cana-cana, a new dialect, dropping that extra syllable.

Read more about how your recordings helped scientists uncover the changes in the White-throated Sparrow’s song.