It’s early morning and through the bedroom window drifts the familiar sound of the American Robin. The bird is perched on the roof, singing in repeated bursts. If you listen, you can find a structure to the song and begin to understand how each bird assembles his own (yes, it is a he that’s singing). The jumble of notes, you soon realize, is a series of separate two-, three-, four- or five-note phrases. Listen for a simple phrase you can recognize and see how often he repeats it. Then pick another and do the same. The robin’s song usually consists of six to 10 short emphatic phrases, seemingly mixed at random, but notice that some of the phrases form the meat of the song with frequent repetition, while others are the spice, tossed in less often.