Songbirds of the South Shore

(Illustration: James Tilley)

The South Shore  is the perfect place to soak up the sweet music of summer, whether it’s catching a Folk Harbour concert in Lunenburg, or enjoying the dulcet birdsong of this marvelous season. We are blessed to have so many delightful songbirds playing their summer soundtracks in Lunenburg County. 

What is a songbird, exactly? It’s not as simple as it sounds. Some birds that have lovely songs are not actually songbirds, and others that have no singing talent whatsoever (crows and ravens) are songbirds. The difference lies mostly in the syrinx, a bird’s Y-shaped voicebox. It is very efficient and well-controlled in songbirds, allowing them to sing two notes simultaneously.

Here are some favourite local vocalists of the avian kind:

  1. Wood thrushes sing a flutey tune known to inspire musicians. Combining the various tones of the syrinx, a wood thrush can sing more than 50 unique songs, some with simultaneous rising and falling notes. 
  1. American robins are one of the most widespread and ubiquitous songbirds. Their song is made up of a string of high and low notes, and their alarm call is a high-pitched ‘yeek’ sound.
  1. Song sparrows have a high-pitched melody which varies by region, so the ballad you hear in Blockhouse is likely to be different from that in Boston.
  2. Yellow warblers, as their name indicates, make a warbling sound when they sing. These little yellow cuties are only here for the summer, so enjoy their chirpy chorus while you can!

What’s your favourite South Shore songbird? Tell us in the comments!


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