Bird Language Connects Citizens to Their Habitat

Bird Language Connects Citizens to Their Habitat

Why do birds vocalize simple chirps sometimes while at other times they emit elaborate, melodious songs? “Bird language” is a term referring to the combined chirps, songs, and behaviors which allow birds to communicate with each other. Humans can study the sounds and behaviors of birds in order to gain an understanding of what they are communicating.

The following video gives examples of bird sounds and their meanings:

Why study bird sounds? The study of bird language intersects with the broader topics of animal studies and biology, and can connect people to their local habitat through a greater level of awareness of animal interaction. Learning about bird language, and identifying birds by sound, requires concentration and careful listening skills. An interest in ornithology can thus improve our listening skills in general. Quieting the mind and tuning in to particular sounds and sensations is a skill which can be applied to mindfulness, and even music studies. Bird songs have in fact had a great impact on human music, and as a result, culture.

Mass Audubon provides a helpful list of Common Bird Species in Massachusetts. An interest in ornithology opens up opportunities for citizen science. Tools such as the program eBird allow users to report bird sightings. This program, created in collaboration with Mass Audubon and Cornell University’s ornithology lab, provides resources for learning about particular species, as well as a map of local sightings, and much more.

Many species of birds migrate. Each season of the year provides different kinds of ornithological learning opportunities, centered around seasonal behaviors. Learning about bird language and identification in the summer months can kick start a year-long, self-directed study. Birds are easier to spot visually in the winter months due to bare trees. Get started learning about bird language now and by next summer you could be a local bird call expert!


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