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