Why Do Birds Sing?

bird song

Some birds know as many as 2,000 distinct songs.

Chances are, at some point in your life, that you’ve woken up to the sound of a bird singing outside your window. Whether you are someone who tends to enjoy these melodies or someone who plugs your ears in annoyance at the interruption to your slumber, you may have found yourself wondering why birds sing at all. Despite your opinion that bird songs exist strictly to annoy you, they actually serve a very important purpose.

Birds sing in order to both proclaim their territory and show off to and attract potential mates. So while you may associate these songs with pretty, feminine birds, it is actually the males of the species that are in fact producing all that noise, though you may find male-female duets in a few rare species. Male birds put a lot of effort into their songs, after all, the future of their genetic lines depend on it!

Bird songs come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them would not even be considered songs at all to the human ear. Sometimes songs appear in the form of repetitive drum beats on wood, such as is the case with woodpeckers. At other times, a bird will flutter or flap its wings in order to create whirring or humming sounds, as is evident with some snipes. And in some cases, instead of producing any actual sounds or noises at all, birds will dance and produce colorful visual displays instead, almost as if they are moving along with music that no one else can hear but them.

The most noticeable songs though are certainly the ones that are the loudest and most repetitive. Some species of birds will spend up to 70% of their entire days singing, sometimes topping out at more than 20,000 songs in a single day, while some will only sing occasionally when females are present or when their territory is threatened. On the other hand, some species will sing over 2,000 different songs throughout the day, while others seem to only be aware of one. While the types, amounts, and variations of sounds and songs produced are so different between bird species, one thing is for sure: studies have found that the male birds who sing the most persistently tend to also be the ones within their communities that have the most food and attract the most females.

Because birds are so prevalent throughout the Everglades, some species may have to work extra hard in order to claim their territory and their females, but when it comes to birds and their singing, hard work really does pay off. To observe the unique birds of the Everglades first hand, take an airboat tour through the Everglades this summer. An Everglades airboat ride will leave you with a new appreciation for all the birds of the Everglades, and even for their many melodious songs as well.

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