Why Birds Sing

by OBDK on May 31, 2021

We’re sure you're familiar with at least some bird songs. Whether you’re up early in the morning or walking around during the day, you’re bound to have heard some birds singing nearby. Why do they sing? 


The two main reasons that birds sing are attracting mates and defending territory.1 When you hear a bird singing, it’s probably a male.2 They’ll sing to warn others that the area is occupied, and to attract a female to mate. Not all bird species sing and in some species, only the males sing. In other species, both males and females will sing. Birds like vultures can’t sing.1


Birds are able to sing thanks to an organ called the syrinx. This organ is what allows birds to sing two different notes at the same time.2 


Songs and calls made by birds can also be used to warn other birds, check in on other birds while they migrate, communicate about a food source, and more.3 Singing actually takes a lot of energy for birds. So it’s another way for males to show off how healthy they are.3&4 This is especially true for the singing that goes on in the morning. Some think that birds make so much noise in the morning because:

1. It’s dark, so predators won’t be able to find them

2. It’s a chance for males to prove their health and worth because they can make so much noise at their “weakest” – after a long night where they haven’t eaten yet.3&4 


The morning also allows their songs to travel further because there isn’t as much noise going on, so they can reach twenty times further with their song than during a later hour of the day.4


Some species will develop dialects, especially if they’ve been separated from the rest of their population. They’ll develop a different style of singing than the other populations, and the following generations will carry that song along.2


What bird songs do you already recognize and hear all the time? Let us know by replying to this email or connect with us on social media, @theowlbrand

Sources & Further Reading: 
  1. https://earthsky.org/earth/why-do-birds-sing

  2. https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/birdsong/

  3. https://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-central-asia/news/why-do-birds-sing

  4. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/04/dawn-chorus/

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