SERIN (Serinus serinus)

Serin cini


The Serin is a dumpy little finch, heavily streaked on the breast and with a short beak, the female is largely brown but the male goes a nice canary yellow colour on the back, head and breast in summer. In Switzerland it can be found all year round, but it does migrate south in winter and although some birds may overwinter it is likely that most of them seen in winter may be migrants from further north. It is most common below about 600m and so occurs mostly in the valleys and the plain to the north.

The Serin usually sings from a high perch or an exposed position like telephone wires or occasionally in a song flight. The notes are a bewildering array of jingling, tinkling and squeaking notes delivered at a frantically fast pace - Cramp and Perrins compare it to splinters of glass being rubbed together:

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The jumble of notes that fall over each other can be seen in the sonogram:

Those previous samples are the normal pace and length of phrases, but I do have a recording of a more rapid delivery where each phrase was much shorter:

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But if you review the sonogram of this it does seem to be still the same basic song pattern (recognising the rather random nature of that pattern !)

When finished singing the birds will take off calling to each other with short "chirruping" phrases in a flight call:

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Flight calls are all about keeping connected whilst on the move, and many species have different contact calls according to the circumstances - the above is the one a Serin uses in flight - when perched it uses this call:

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The gaps in that last sound are because I selected a few samples out of a longer recording to isolate it, here is the sonogram of two of the phrases:

Another important call in the life of a bird is when there is danger about - the alarm call, this is made to warn others of the same species without giving away the presence of the caller and putting it in undue danger. The alarm call used by a Serin is, according to Cramp and Perrins a broad-band "tszee" noise as follows, although I admit the birds do not sound particularly alarmed :

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So now let's put it all together - here is a 30 sec sequence of alarm calls and contact calls delivered by two birds, based on what you have heard above see if you can pick out the two types (try and ignore the Greenfinch in the background towards the end):

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A not terribly interesting little bird but nonetheless living and communicating just like all its fellows !


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