Love Songs in the Night: The Return of the Nightingale | panorama

During these days, you can again listen to private concerts in parks and gardens at night. Nightingales are returning from their wintering quarters. Tens of thousands arrived in Germany in April after their long journey from Africa to mate and raise their young.

Exactly how many are there is not clear. The latest National Bird Protection Report from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation from 2019 gives numbers for 2016. At that time, an estimated 84,000 to 155,000 pairs of nightingales existed. Compared to 2004, an increase of 26 percent, compared to 1980 even by 50 percent.

“The nightingale appears to be one of the few long-distance migratory species among the migratory birds whose populations appear to be stable here,” says Martin Rummler, a Naboo ornithologist. Birds feel especially comfortable in dense bushes, where the ground is covered with rotting leaves. They can also be found in cities, for example in parks and gardens, along railway bridges and in overgrown industrial areas.

An average of 180 to 200 different verse types

According to Rummler, nightingales sometimes have a hard time in the countryside. That is, when the same plant species always grow in the fields, hedges are removed and various pesticides are used.

Birds are famous for singing. “On average, male nightingales master 180 to 200 different hairs,” says Connie Landgraf of the Leibniz Institute for Animal and Wildlife Research. These vary in length and tone. There are, for example, the so-called frequencies, punches or whistles. Males combine these sounds into different syllables, which they read one after another, interrupted by short pauses.

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As with other songbirds, nightingales exchange information with their song – and not just at night. During the day, the main purpose of the song is probably to clinch territory against other males. However, at night they flirt with a partner.

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