Songbird Songs – Puppet Show

Bird Talk

Characters: Bernie Beaver, Mr. Cardinal, Chickadee, Mr. Red-winged Blackbird, Mrs. Red-winged Blackbird. Blue Jay, Mrs. Cardinal appear but don’t speak.

Props: headphones.

Bernie Beaver  There! Been working all night and now the dam is fixed. It’s almost morning, so it’s time for me to go to bed. Sure is peaceful and quiet at this hour…

Mr. Cardinal  Wa-cheer, wa-cheer. (exits)

Chickadee  Fee-dee, fee–dee-dee. (exits)

Beaver  Well, it was quiet. I wonder why the birds are so noisy this morning. All winter it was quiet, but now that it’s spring they’re making a racket.

Mr. Red-winged Blackbird  Konk-la-ree, konk-la-leer. Konk-la-ree, konk-la-leer.

Beaver  Mr. Red-wing, why do all you birds have to sing so much in the morning?

Mr. Red-wing  Sing? Because sounds travel well in the morning. We can send out our messages loud and clear.

Beaver  Messages? What do you mean?

Mr. Red-wing  Oh, I’ll bet you don’t understand bird talk! Here, these special headphones will help you understand us. (holds up headphones)

Beaver  (puts on headphones) Wow, thanks!

Mr. Red-wing  Now, listen again. Konk-la-ree, come to me! Konk-la-leer, I think you’re dear.

Beaver  Wow! Cool! I can understand you! You’re calling for a mate, a Mrs. Red-wing.

Mr. Red-wing  That’s right!

Beaver  But what about all the other birds? Their songs sound very different from yours.

Mr. Red-wing  You can use the headphones for them too. Now I’ve got to get back to singing. Time’s a wasting! So long. (exits)

Beaver  Okay, bye. Look, there’s Mr. Cardinal. I wonder what he’s saying.

Mr. Cardinal  Wa-cheer, wa-cheer. Come here, come here! (exits)

Beaver  And there’s Mr. Chickadee.

Chickadee  Fee–dee-dee. Hey, sweetie. Fee-dee-dee. Hey, sweetie. (exits)

Beaver  I think they’re singing for a mate, only each kind sings a different song. Hmm. Maybe I should test out my theory. I’ll try singing Mr. Red-wing’s song. Oh, konk-la-ree, konk-la-leer. (Mrs. Red-wing enters.)

Mrs. Red-wing  Why, you don’t look at all like what I expected! You don’t have any red on your…you don’t even have wings!

Beaver  Oops, sorry. You’re not what I expected either. I thought I was singing for a red-winged blackbird.

Mrs. Red-wing  But I am a red-wing! I’m a female and we’re drab-colored so we won’t draw attention to our nest. But now I don’t know if there will be a nest! Oh dear!

Beaver   Now, now, don’t worry. If you go over to those cattails, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect mate.

Mrs. Red-wing  Oh, I hope so. I’m so confused, I’m all aflutter! (exits)

Beaver  Guess I’d better be careful about using bird talk myself! I hope she finds him.

(Mr. and Mrs. Red-wing fly around, exit)

Well, look at that! Now things will quiet down, and I’ll be able to get to sleep.

Mr. Red-wing  Konk-la-ree, konk-la-leer, konk-la-ree, konk-la-leer!

Beaver  Huh? Mr. Red-wing, why are you still singing? I saw you with your mate.

Mr. Red-wing  Oh, did I forget to mention? There’s another setting on the headphones. Put the dial to ‘male.’ (taps headphones)

Beaver  Okay. I’ll listen again.

Mr. Red-wing  Konk-la-ree! This is my territor-ee! Konk-la-leer! You had better steer clear!

Beaver  Wow! That’s a very different message. Your song means “come here” to a female and “steer clear” to another male?

Mr. Red-wing  You guessed it. We use our song to advertise for a mate but also to defend our territory. I need enough space to have food, water, and shelter for my family.

Beaver  I know what you mean!

Mr. Red-wing  And for small animals like birds, sound is a good way to get a message out over a big distance.

Beaver  Yeah, and for beavers, it’s a good way to warn our family of danger. I’m not very good at singing, but when I slap my tail on the water, everyone knows to look out!

Mr. Red-wing  I’ll say! Birds have alarm calls too. They’re not at all like our songs.

Beaver  You mean a bird call is different from a bird song?

Mr. Red-wing  Yup. Songs are longer and more complicated, and they’re mostly sung by the males. Calls are short sounds made by every bird – young, old, male or female. Let’s change the setting to “calls.” (taps headphones) Listen – the blue jays are mobbing a hawk…

Blue Jay Jay, jay! Thief, thief! (exits)

Mr. Red-wing  Chickadee found some food.

Chickadee  Chickadee, dee, dee. Come and eat, eat, eat. (exits)

Mr. Red-wing  Mrs. Cardinal’s calling her mate…

Mrs. Cardinal  Chip? Chip? Chip!! (exits)

Beaver  Boy, there’s a lot more to bird talk than I thought. Here, Mr. Redwing. You can take these headphones back.

Mr. Red-wing  But there’s lots more. We have flight calls and begging calls and –

Beaver  That’s okay. Bird talk’s really for the birds! I just want to get to sleep!

Mr. Red-wing  Just try this last setting. (taps headphones) You’ll be glad you did.

Beaver  Well, okay. Just one more time.

Mr. Red-wing  (musically) Konk la reep. Go to sleep. Konk la reem. Have a sweet dream.

Beaver (yawns) Now that’s bird talk I can appreciate. It’s like a lullaby, singing me to sleep. Good night. (lies down, snores)

Mr. Red-wing  Sleep tight, Bernie Beaver.

The End


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