Songbirds use sound to communicate different things. They use songs and calls. The difference is based upon complexity, length and context.
A song is a longer, more structured vocalization made while attracting a mate. Some can contain as many as 80 notes per second. Studies have been done that say that songs can be very influential when trying to attract and impress a potential mate. Songs can tell a female bird if their admirer is in good health and has good genes. The more elaborate the song, the more attractive he is to her.
Calls are usually shorter and less rhythmic. These are used as an alarm when there is a potential threat nearby or to communicate their location.
Each type of bird and individual has its own range of songs and calls that they use in different situations. Some birds have several hundred songs like the Wren and Northern Mockingbird.
Songbirds have a vocal organ called a syrinx that is located where the trachea splits into two bronchial tubes. The bird controls the pitch by changing the amount of tension on the membranes and controls both pitch and volume by changing the force of exhalation. Each side of the syrinx can be controlled independently, allowing birds to produce two different notes at one time.
Songbirds aren’t born knowing how to sing. They learn their songs while they are still in the nest, by listening to adult birds singing around them. The young birds try to copy these songs and practice until they match.
Some birds may have a sensitive enough ear to identify individuals by their calls. Many birds that next in colonies can find their chicks using their calls.
Sound is a great way for birds to communicate because it goes beyond what and how far birds can see. Sometimes, if the conditions are right, sounds can travel over a mile or several miles.
Did you know?
There are apps for your smartphone that can recognize what bird you are hearing sing! You record the bird singing, the app analyzes it in real-time and identifies the type of bird. Technology is nuts!
If you are an avid bird lover or watcher, the Songbird Address Plaque is what you are looking for! The design is simple yet graceful and elegant. And the little bird is so cute and charming. 🙂