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What kinds of sounds do birds make?


Bird vocalizations are a complex collection of sounds that can be divided into at least three general categories: chip notes, call notes, and songs. But it doesn't stop there. Various sounds may be mixed for different purposes and geographical differences within a single species are common.

Left to right: Red-headed Woodpecker, House Wren, Ruffed Grouse
Each of these species is known for making sounds in different ways.

Songs are typically the most complex vocalization of a bird's repertoire.

Chip notes
Chip notes are short, often high-pitched notes given by species such as warblers and sparrows.

Call notes
Call notes may be a single, emphatic note or a series of notes, but they are usually less complex than a bird's song.

Geographic variation
Just as humans sometimes have regional dialects or accents, birds from particular areas may have distinctive songs. You may not be able to pick out a southern drawl, but with a little experience you will be able to spot regional differences or even individual birds.

Different sounds, different meanings
You don't have to be a Dr. Dolittle to understand what birds are saying. If you listen closely, you may learn a surprising amount from the robin next door.

Other sounds and behaviors

Bird sounds are not all vocal in nature. Woodpeckers rap and several species have specialized feathers and behavior designed to send an audible message.