Friday, August 26, 2022

Grackle on the Pine Shuffle

Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

Common Grackles exhibit a rare phenomenon called antiphonal singing. Of all the bird species in the world (around 10,000), only about 400 are known to have this trait. What does it mean for a bird to sing antiphonally? 

Typically occurring between males and females, one will start singing its song and the other will finish it. Most often, the female is the one that answers. There are several hypotheses as to why this behavior exists. One is to simply let the other bird know of its presence. Another reason may be to strengthen, or commit to, a relationship. Could the bond be so strong that one finishes the other’s sentence? After all, most duetting pairs are established, not birds that are out on their first date. ;)

A third possible reason for birds to sing in duet may be to stave off EPCs. Extra-pair copulations happen frequently in the bird world, and by letting another bird know just how committed the relationship is may prevent an intruder from trying his/her luck. 

Lastly, a duet may point to territorial defense when announcing to a rival “This is our property, find your own!” You know, that sort of thing.

Now you know all about antiphonal singing amongst birds, albeit in a highly condensed fashion. For a more in-depth analysis, visit the reference cited below. Thanks for your time and I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of summer.


Doyle, Diana. "Do Eastern Whip-poor-wills Sing Antiphonally?" Birding, vol. 50, no. 1, Feb. 2018, pp 36-43.


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