how the birds got their songs

Travis Zimmerman is a proud member of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa people from Lake Superior. For the past thirty years, he has served as a board member or employee of numerous Native American organizations. He has been the site manager at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post for fifteen years. He has two amazing grandsons and is a father of two.

He observed how silent everything was when Mother Earth was very young and the Great Spirit had created all beings. He noticed some birds flying by as he strolled around the planet and observed the sounds of the wind, the water, and the animals. He knew immediately what he needed to do. To ensure that every bird could acquire the song that was ideal for its kind, the Great Spirit organized a competition. He gathered every bird, big and small, a sparrow to a hawk, and explained the plan to them. Each would soar to the greatest heights in the sky, and upon their return to Mother Earth, each would be bestowed with a song. Eagle was confident that his powerful wings would enable him to soar above the others and win the most beautiful song. However, he was unaware that the small hermit thrush had curled up into the eagle’s feathers to snooze while the Great Spirit was speaking. When it was time to return, each bird descended after flying for an extended period of time and singing a unique song. This precious story, passed down through the author Travis Zimmerman’s family, features traditional knowledge from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, but which bird flew the highest? Which one received the prettiest song? Sam Zimmerman, a native of Grand Portage, is a stylized artist whose vivid illustrations reflect his great love of birds. The story comes full circle in Marcus Ammesmakis’ Ojibwemowin retelling, which invites language learners to delve into this classic portrayal of our natural world while also urging all readers to treasure the gift of birdsong.

Sam Zimmerman, an artist and educator, is descended directly from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe). Zimmerman carries on the Anishinaabe storytelling tradition by drawing on ancestral ties. He incorporates environmental stewardship and North Shore conservation into his studio work and public art commissions. Following My Spirit Home: A Collection of Paintings and Stories is Zimmerman’s debut book. His artwork can be found in both domestic and foreign private collections. He frequently travels to Duluth, Minnesota, to take in the stunning scenery of the state’s North Shore. View his studio projects and current creations on Instagram @CraneSuperior.

About the Author MarcusAmmesmaki / Aanikanootaagewin is a K/1 teacher at Waadookodaading OjibweLanguage Institutein Hayward, Wisconsin. Product Details

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How do birds learn their songs?

Almost no songbirds know their songs by instinct. Rather, most need to learn to sing. Songbirds begin learning songs as nestlings by hearing the songs of adults nearby. In this way, song traditions (known to biologists as “memes”) are passed down in songbird neighborhoods from year to year.

How do birds make their sounds?

Vocal sounds are made by a special organ only birds possess: the syrinx. The syrinx is located at the very top of the birds’ windpipe. The air that comes in through the windpipe causes thin membranes to vibrate and produce sound.

What causes birds to sing?

Birdsongs serve two main purposes for their singers: to defend territories and woo mates. Songs often carry long distances and display the singer’s health and vigor, warning away potential competitors and attracting potential partners.

How did bird song evolve?

Song evolution in species that learn to sing can also be driven by cultural drift, for example if only a few members of a species found a new population and bring with them only a subset of the original population’s vocal repertoire. In summary, acoustic signals play many roles in the social lives of birds.