PODCAST | The Khwezi Science Report: Singing for sex, and other urban tales

Now we know why male birds rise early before the 'curtain goes up'

05 September 2020 - 12:48
By tanya farber AND Tanya Farber
The dawn chorus happens after hours of rehearsal
Image: Photo by Robert Lachlan, Royal Holloway, University of London The dawn chorus happens after hours of rehearsal

In this episode of the Khwezi Science Report, Tanya Farber takes us into the world of birds in the concrete jungle. She shares a harrowing urban story of an avian pet, shares some fascinating studies, and speaks to Dr Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk who is an obsessive twitcher.

Rijsdijk shares some gripping tales of a killing he witnessed while in a traffic jam, and why a weaver's nest is an architectural marvel.

“You almost can't imagine that a human could weave something that intricate and fine and yet the bird is doing it with its claws and beak, complete mastery of the materials,” he says.

Home-building is one thing — but what's a home without a sex partner with whom to create offspring? Farber explains the frenetic vocal activity that happens backstage and when the curtain finally rises on the dawn chorus.