We love watching birds because they’re beautiful, and we love to hear their song. That’s why so many of us spend time and money indulging in our hobby. From binoculars to feeders, we do whatever it takes to attract our winged visitors to our backyard so we can enjoy their aerial gymnastics and beautiful birdsong. And as much as it would be nice to believe that birds sing for our benefit, the truth is that they do so for their own reasons. Here are the main ones:
Birds sing in order to attract a mate. If you happen to hear birdsong, especially in the morning, chances are that it’s a male bird trying to show off to females. His birdsong says, “Hey, ladies. Here I am – listen to my song. I’m a healthy, available male looking for a mate. I hope you notice me.” In essence, the male hopes that a female will notice and chose him as the father of her brood. Generally speaking, a strong, clear song indicates a healthy, mature male – characteristics a female is looking for.
Male birds sing in order to claim and defend their territories. Whereas humans build fences and male dogs tend to urinate in order to mark their territory, birds will sing loudly and consistently to warn other males that this is their turf and they’d better stay away. It’s important to note that singing take a tremendous amount of energy and effort, not to mention that it may attract predators. In addition, when singing, the bird is unable to look for food. To birds, singing is serious business.
Chicks sing to let their parents know they’re hungry. While in the nest, young chicks tend to be fairly helpless and depend on their parents for food and protection. When hungry, most species emit one loud, high pitched, repetitive note over and over in order to get their parents’ attention. Much like a baby crying when hungry, baby birds call out when they need food. Most of the time, the pitch and the frequency is such that it can’t be ignored.
In short, birdsong has many kinds of utilitarian purposes which allows birds to follow their normal cycle of life. As lovers of birds, we get to benefit from the beauty of their song. It’s a win-win, in our opinion.
We were chatting with one of our birding friends about birdsong. He asked why birds tend to sing more at dawn than any other time of the day. We were stumped. The little research we did confirmed that birds do indeed sing more in the morning, but no one seemed to know why. If you happen to know this little piece of trivia, we’d love to hear it. Drop us a note and we’ll post your reply. Good luck!
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