Psalm 144:9
“I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.”

King David, in praise to God, declared “I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you.” (Psalm 144:9)

The white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) is commonly seen in the summer across Canada – mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a migrating bird, breeding during its Canadian Summer, but flying to the southern and eastern United States to spend the winter. Only one breeding community of these sparrows is known west of the Rockies, and this community is situated near Prince George in British Columbia.

The white-throated sparrow has a distinctive song, which ends in a series of triplets. However, the Western community ends its song with pairs of notes, instead of triplets. That is not too surprising – new songs can develop in isolated breeding communities. However, birds to the east of the Rockies have now started adopting the new song.

Scientists at the University of Northern British Columbia at Prince George have been studying various North American colonies of sparrows and have concluded that central Canadian birds have been tutored in the new song by Western birds with whom they share a common wintering haunt.

It is unlikely that any of us would have a problem with this research or conclusion, but it is a shame that the Canadian biologists refer to this phenomenon as “cultural evolution”. In biological terms, no evolution has taken place. The birds behave within the parameters with which God created them.

Prayer: Thank You for the variety of birds that You made, Lord God. Thank You that each one is known to You, yet You tell us that we are more precious than they. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: Otter K., et al, Continent-wide Shifts in Song Dialects of White-Throated Sparrows, Current Biology30, 1–5.e1–e3, August 17, 2020, < >, accessed 6/30/2020. Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported.

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