Bird Song – Luis Baptista

Luis’ canary call


What we’re listening to may sound like a canary, but it’s not. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by Dupont.

“When I was 8 years old, I started keeping birds and was enthralled by their songs. I used to whistle to my young canaries because I was impatient for them to start singing. And eventually they became adults, and one of them whistled exactly the same way as I did. I had passed my song tradition down to a canary.”

And thus began a lifelong fascination for Lugs Baptist, a true master of bird song. He learned to mimic birds well enough to fool them.

“Once I was walking on the edge of a rainforest in Costa Rica, and I heard this dove singing and I didn’t recognize it, so I tried to imitate it, and this bird actually flew out of the forest towards my head and veered off at the last moment, when he saw that I wasn’t another dove. Anyway, this is what it sounded like –(imitates).”

Luis Baptist was chairman and curator of ornithology at the California Academy of Sciences. He was a pioneer in the study of dialects in bird song — regional differences within the same species. While living in San Francisco, Lugs developed a fine ear for the singing of white-crowned sparrows, and could identify an individual bird’s home from its song.

“How about some White-crowned sparrows from Tilde Park? (imitates) From the City of Berkeley (imitates)…from the Canadian Rockies, the same species (imitates).”

Luis Baptist passed away recently. This week, we’ve been presenting a series on his work in tribute to a scientist who was both respected and beloved by members of the arts and science communities. Pulse of the Planet is presented by Dupont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Bird Song - Luis Baptista

A world expert on bird song found his passion early in life, when he taught his pet canaries to sing.
Air Date:10/06/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

Luis' canary call


What we're listening to may sound like a canary, but it's not. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by Dupont.

"When I was 8 years old, I started keeping birds and was enthralled by their songs. I used to whistle to my young canaries because I was impatient for them to start singing. And eventually they became adults, and one of them whistled exactly the same way as I did. I had passed my song tradition down to a canary."

And thus began a lifelong fascination for Lugs Baptist, a true master of bird song. He learned to mimic birds well enough to fool them.

"Once I was walking on the edge of a rainforest in Costa Rica, and I heard this dove singing and I didn't recognize it, so I tried to imitate it, and this bird actually flew out of the forest towards my head and veered off at the last moment, when he saw that I wasn't another dove. Anyway, this is what it sounded like --(imitates)."

Luis Baptist was chairman and curator of ornithology at the California Academy of Sciences. He was a pioneer in the study of dialects in bird song -- regional differences within the same species. While living in San Francisco, Lugs developed a fine ear for the singing of white-crowned sparrows, and could identify an individual bird's home from its song.

"How about some White-crowned sparrows from Tilde Park? (imitates) From the City of Berkeley (imitates)...from the Canadian Rockies, the same species (imitates)."

Luis Baptist passed away recently. This week, we've been presenting a series on his work in tribute to a scientist who was both respected and beloved by members of the arts and science communities. Pulse of the Planet is presented by Dupont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.