The Amazing Metrobird

I have a little place in Greece, on a lesser known corner of the Peloponnese, on a little beach with a derelict and rarely visited acropolis from which the islands of Ψιλι, Πλατεια and (just about) Σπετσεσ are visible.

Here

It’s a magical (and for me painfully nostalgic) place where even when we eventually installed a phone (1996),  modem (2006) and wi-fi (2013) seems eerily frozen (well baked) in time. This part of the world is home to some odd creatures: deafening cicada, scorpions, flying fish, swordfish and a plant with fruit that explode on the lightest touch.

Shore it is

One such unusual animal I have yet to (knowingly) see but I’ve been fasciated by its sound for years. It’s some kind of bird that emits a short tweet at intervals so regular that we use it as a metronome. (It sounds particularly good on beat 4 & in a bossa).

Here’s an unedited audio sample recorded on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 19:32

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(non-flash) Metrobird

Notice how (separated by an unmeasured pause) there is a decent metronomic tempo established. Logic Pro X’s transient detector and beat mapping tools reveal that once a pulse is established it tends to stay within a couple of bpm. I’ve played with far worse time-keepers of the human species. Here are the numbers:

Numbers

To get a feel for it, listen to the same unedited clip with a click track.

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(non-flash) Metrobird with Click
Not bad at all. Here’s how it sounds (again completely unedited) in the context of a percussion groove.

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(non-flash) Metrobird Groove

Does anyone know what type of bird it is, an what evolutionary pressures gave it such tight timing?

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3 Responses to The Amazing Metrobird

  1. GiGi says:

    Hello Milton, I’m GiGi from South Italy.
    This predatory bird is pretty common here and its activities spans almost during the night starting from the twilight.

    In Italian the name is “assiolo”.
    Sorry if you already found this info….but I just discovered your interesting and nice website…thank you!!

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