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Outdoors: Sound the (bird) call

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Last summer, IPR aired an interview with trumpeter Walter White, and I listened with great interest because when he was an eight-year-old camper, Walter took my nature class here at Interlochen.

For years, Walter was the bugler at the Arts Camp.

As he described the various bugle calls—“Reveille," “Taps,” “Call to Quarters,”—I couldn’t help but reflecting on the similarities between bugle calls and bird calls.

Birds have two types of vocalizations: calls and songs.

Any bird vocalizations not related to breeding are classified “calls."

While we humans cannot understand all bird communications, we do recognize some of the most urgent calls: “alarm notes," “distress calls," “assembly calls.”

"Alarm notes" are the means by which birds warn each other of danger. This call apparently is involuntary, and in most cases, the terror-filled bird probably does not intend to warn others, but other birds heed the call.

“Distress calls” are given when bird in trouble needs help, and “mob calls” rally other birds to united against a common enemy.

Birds have “food calls," “flocking calls,” and “ assembly calls."

When birds sound the call, other birds gather.

“Sound the Call” announces the opening of the Interlochen Arts Camp season.

This year, thank goodness, it once again is an assembly call.

This weekend, many of us will gather once again between the lakes and under the stately pines.

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.