Blackcap Song… and More!

If we take in apart the aspect of its song, the Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, is a very crazy bird!
When we hear an unusual bird song, before thinking of any kind of bird unknown to us, it’ll be better if we exclude the possibility that it could be a Blackcap!
The Blackcap song is one of the least stereotyped that can be heard among the european birds, characterized by local dialectal variations. Moreover, it is frequently given in the form and with imitative phrases of other bird species, which generates further confusion for a correct ID.
Do we want to make life even more complicated? Let’s compare the song of the Blackcap to that of the Garden Warbler,
Sylvia borin, and the damage is done!

PS For the Garden Warbler take a look at the images shown in reverse mode.

Se prendiamo in considerazione l’aspetto del canto, la Capinera, Sylvia atricapilla, è da considerarsi una specie veramente pazza!
Quando sentiamo un canto strano, prima di pensare a qualsiasi altra specie di uccello a noi sconosciuto, sarà meglio escludere la possibilità che possa trattarsi di una capinera. Il canto della capinera è uno dei meno stereotipati che si possano sentire tra gli uccelli europei, caratterizzato da notevoli variazioni dialettali locali. Inoltre, viene spesso emesso con frasi imitative di canti di altre specie di uccelli, il che genera ulteriore elemento confusione per una corretta identificazione.
Vogliamo renderci la vita ancor più complicata? Confrontiamo il canto della capinera con quello del beccafico, Sylvia borin, e la frittata è fatta!

PS Per il Beccafico vedere le immagini chiare riportate in modalità spettrogramma reverse.

A full song is normally structured with relatively short phrases

Blackcap Full Song, breeding season
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, breeding, full song 29 June 2012

In the last decades we have seen a remarkable increase in subjects performing the so-called Leier song (from the Lira instrument), a song characterized by one or two notes repeated several times in the final part of the song phrase (see below).

Blackcap Leier Song

Here a prolonged song, also known as plastic song

Blackcap Plastic song
Garden Warbler, Sylvia borin, plastic song during migration 24 May 2019

Below we have four examples of the specialty of the blackcap: the imitative song.
It’s easier to hear it during the spring migration.

Blackcap imitative song of Common Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler
Blackcap imitative song of Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler

Now a subsong of a juvenile bird, mainly hearing in autumn and winter.
It’s very soft, with very long and interminable phrases.

Blackcap Subsong

Finally a very curious and repetitive Blackcap song!

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