The Wonders of a Bird’s Song

When asked to make observations without the sense of sight for the Third Sit Spot Challenge, I noticed the plethora of bird-related noises. I’ve always liked birds and their charming chirps, but never thought about just why they chirp. However, when my classmate was whistling a lot and the birds seemed to respond, I started to wonder what they use their songs for.

A sketch I drew of an American Robin, Michigan's state bird.

A sketch I drew of an American Robin, Michigan’s state bird.

The view from my sit spot

The view from my sit spot

Upon further research on whether birds respond to human whistling or not, I found that birds do respond to and even copy other birds’ calls, caws, and songs. However, It’s very unlikely that they actually respond to humans, at least not consciously. It’s most likely they were warning each other of either of possible predators or the oncoming storm.

I found that the various noises a bird makes are used to communicate a number of things, and it’s not all business-related either. While birds often use their chirps and caws to warn others of predators and weather or even to mark their territory, they also use their songs to attract possible mates. Some birds even sing why they fly. It seams that birds are very social creatures, and much like a small child, sometimes like to make noise for the heck of it.

Another interesting thing about birds is the difference between each different chirp, or caw, or tweet. In one day spent in the woods you could here over twenty different kinds of bird-call. And each one has its own sound. An Evening Grosbeak Finch chirp sounds totally different than a Pine Grosbeak’s chirp. Those are two different birds that were both finches, and yet they sounded totally different. Listen to  the difference between one of those finches and a Piping Plover. There is a crazy amount variance between a birds chips and each bird has multiple chirps that they use for different things they want to communicate.

So next times you take a walk in the woods, make sure you have time to fully appreciate how crazy and complex one bird’s call is.


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