Project (Yellowhammer Dialects) has been inspired by a very successful citizen-science project Dialects of Czech Yellowhammers (Nářečí českých strnadů), which has been running in the Czech Republic since 2011. It is hosted on the website of the project Yellowhammer Dialects, focused on comparison of dialects in the invaded range in New Zealand and their source area, the Great Britain.
Yellowhammer is a widespread, small and conspicuous songbird that seems ideal for studying function of dialects in animal vocal communication. Its simple songs can be assigned to several dialects, broadly distributed in Europe but overlapping in a mosaic fashion. Most birds at a locality sing only one dialect) which seems locally stable over years.
The yellowhammer is easy to recognise, sings until late in the season, and its song can be recorded by many common gadgets (including smartphones, digital cameras, or voice recorders). Therefore, general public such as birdwatchers, tourists, or nature enthusiasts can record yellowhammer songs in their vicinity, upload the recordings, and thus contribute to a large-scale research project that would not be possible without their participation.
A similar citizen science project on yellowhammer dialects in the Czech Republic was a huge success. During two years we obtained more than 1700 recordings covering most of the country. Recording of yellowhammer songs enriched daily walks, bike trips, or family journeys of our volunteers. For some, collecting of recordings from different places, and seeing them appear on an interactive online map, became real passion.
Recordings collected for the sake of this project helped also to the great picture. In 2014 we have published a Review about Yellowhammer Dialect in Europe.
Petrusková T, Diblíková L, Pipek P, Frauendorf E, Procházka P, Petrusek A (2015). A review of the distribution of Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) dialects in Europe reveals the lack of a clear macrogeographic pattern. Journal of Ornithology 156: 263-273
Important part of the project was thorough analysis of old documents of Acclimatisation societies and newspapers. The history of Yellowhammer colonization of New Zealand was reconstructed in surprising detail.
If you can record yellowhammers for us, just follow the orange boxes on the top. They will guide you through all important steps.
If you find the project interesting, please spread the word. Share the link to the project webpages or hang out its leaflet.