Today at Light Future Art, we’re sharing some fun feathered facts about the nightingale, a little bird who is known for singing beautifully the world over and who has inspired composers, poets, and artists for ages.
1. Nightingales spend their summers in Europe and their winters in Africa. They can be found in developed areas, like parks and gardens, but they prefer to nest in dense woodlands.
2. Nightingales tend to return to the same areas they have spent the winter in during previous years.
3. Nightingales typically live between one and five years in the wild. The oldest known age for a nightingale was eight years and four months old.
4. There is a story in the Ukraine about how nightingales first began to migrate there. The people of the Ukraine, according to the story, used to sing sad songs. The nightingale sings his song to cheer them up, and it worked. From then on, they sang happy songs and the nightingale returns every year to hear their music.
5. Nightingales’ songs are made up of about 200 different phrases. Only the males sing, as their songs’ purpose is to attract females. It is a myth that nightingales only sing during the night, that is just when they can be heard best. During the day, they have to compete to be heard with other songbirds.
6. The older the nightingale, the more complex their songs are. A younger bird might have about 150 combinations of songs to sing while an older bird might have closer to 300.
7. The original Old English word for nightingales, “nightingale”, means “night songstress”. This is because people believed that it was the female nightingale who sang rather than the male.
8. Both the mother and father care for their chicks. Only the mother incubates the nest but, after the chicks hatch, both parents feed and nurture them.
9. Male and female nightingales look identical and it is hard to know which is which unless they are singing or sitting on a nest of eggs. Males tend to be slightly larger in size but actually weigh less on average.
10. Aside from raising chicks, nightingales are pretty solitary birds. They each maintain their own territory and can be seen to fight over their territories every now and then. When nightingales sing in the hour before dawn, it is probably because they are establishing their territory rather than trying to attract a mate.
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