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Twenty-year study tracks a sparrow song that went 'viral' across Canada


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Most bird species are slow to change their tune, preferring to stick with tried-and-true songs to defend territories and attract females. Now, with the help of citizen scientists, researchers have tracked how one rare sparrow song went "viral" across Canada, traveling over 3,000 kilometers between 2000 and 2019 and wiping out a historic song ending in the process. The study, publishing July 2 in the journal Current Biology, reports that white-throated sparrows from British Columbia to central Ontario have ditched their traditional three-note-ending song in favor of a unique two-note-ending variant—although researchers still don't know what made the new song so compelling.

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