As light relief, am racing through John Buchan's The Three Hostages. Totally absorbed...
I re-read the "Hanay Five" recently. Marvellous stuff. Apart from anything else, Buchan was the master of the chapter heading.Originally Posted by vinteuil;151062
As light relief, am racing through John Buchan's [B
RT, I wasn't thinking of meaning in an anthropomorphic sense, but presumably those avian purposes could be considered as meanings and the sheer numbers of variations in song might suggest that the birds have developed many different types of signal rather than the relatively small number of signals that you usually see described such as mating, territorial calls etc.It's a mistake to imagine that birdsong "means" anything in an anthropomorphic sense - it has evolved, in different ways among different species, for specific biological purposes - establishing territories, warning off rival males, impressing females, etc.
I don't think the Victorians would have had a lot to add - their strong point was killing and collecting dead birds in order to measure their skins, and stuff them
Maybe not. That Darwin fellow was not such a dusty naturalist, thoughI don't think the Victorians would have had a lot to add - their strong point was killing and collecting dead birds in order to measure their skins, and stuff them
Cosima Wagner (The Lady of Bayreuth) by Oliver Hilmes (transl. Stewart Spencer) Yale University Press 2010
Thomas Mann: Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain)
I intend to live forever - so far, so good.
thus rather agreeing with me. I was suggesting that, even had they been inclined, Victorian naturalists would not have a great deal to tell us in this regard, and that the study of avian communication has moved on, technically speaking. I would refer you yet again to the work of Joan Hall-Craggs, cellist and authority on blackbird song.I just thought it was a pity that none of those intrepid Victorian naturalists had spent a lifetime studying the calls and song of birds to try and work out patterns of communication, however difficult this task is.
Last edited by Richard Tarleton; 16-04-12 at 19:18. Reason: added emoticon, after glass of red
I realise that, RT, but I think you may be a trifle harsh on Victorian naturalists. After all, it was they who really established ornithology as a serious study - for instance, with the founding of the British Ornithology Union in 1858 and with people like its founder Alfred Newton and William MacGillivray. Modern technology has undoubtedly greatly improved the science of ornithology, but it still depends to a great extent on painstaking observation, something some Victorians (like Darwin) were very good at. It was a shame that there don't seem to have been many, if any, among them who were interested in studying birdsong.