12 Exciting Facts About Birdsong

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Why do birds sing? How do they sing? Which birds can imitate cellphones, cars and chainsaws? Are there birds that can’t sing? This article will explain everything you need to know about birdsong.

1. Why Do Birds Sing??
“Go Away” and “Come Here”!

Birds use their songs to get the attention of their enemies. Why would they put themselves at risk like that? There are two main reasons: the birds are defending their territory and trying to find a partner. Some females do sing but it’s mostly the males that enchant us with their songs. You could say that their songs either mean “go away” or “come here”.

African Penguin African Penguin - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

2. How Do Birds Sing?
From the Chest

We humans blow through our vocal cords to make them vibrate. Birds sing from their bellies, with their syrinx. It’s located just under the windpipe and is made of a membrane (skin flap) that the bird vibrates. Have you ever hit a drum and noticed that the skin moves a little? Think of it like that. Cowbirds can even vibrate their membrane in two different ways - so they can sing with two voices each.

Find out more:
How to birds breathe?

Northern Cardinals Northern Cardinals - Photo: Bonnie Tayler Barry/Shutterstock

3. Are There Birds that Can’t Sing?

Many birds make (some) noises but it’s nothing to do with singing. Birds like hummingbirds might seem silent, but they don’t move through life without making any noise. When they don’t sing, you can hear:

Lion’s roar Ostrich
Screech Birds of prey
Coo Dove
Stamping Eurasian coot (feet)
Clapping Stork (beak)
Wing beats Wood pigeon (wings)
Knocks Woodpecker (beak)
Trilling Hummingbird (wingtips)

Ostrich Ostrich - Photo: Elsa Hoffmann/Shutterstock