Page last updated at 23:44 GMT, Sunday, 15 June 2008 00:44 UK

Birds learn dawn chorus from CDs


The scheme follows a study carried out by the RSPCA

Baby birds being cared for in RSPCA centres are being taught to sing using CD recordings of the dawn chorus.

The scheme follows a study carried out by the animal charity, which showed it could help birds reared in captivity before they are released into the wild.

The study found it helps them become good singers which in turn will help them survive when they are set free.

As a result CD recordings are being played twice a day to the hundreds of fledglings at RSPCA wildlife centres.

Dr Andrew Kelly, director of Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre & Cattery in Nantwich, Cheshire, said the study showed most bird species benefitted from being played birdsong.

"The ability to sing is extremely important to the males of most bird species because it is vital for them to form and then defend their own territory and find a mate," he said.

"Female birds in many species choose a partner based on the way they sing.

"Birds learn to sing from their parents so being reared in captivity can mean that they don't know how to sing properly."

The report looked at the findings of 158 previous studies to reach general conclusions about birdsong.

Each year the RSPCA's four wildlife centres receive about 4,500 fledglings during the peak months of April to August, which accounts for about a third of the animals they care for.

The average stay for these birds is about 50 days.

The other three RSPCA wildlife centres are in East Winch near King's Lynn, Norfolk; West Hatch near Taunton, Somerset; and Mallydams Wood near Hastings in East Sussex.

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