names of sounds of birds

A Complete Guide to the Names of Sounds of Birds

If you live near the woods or have a backyard that birds often visit, you probably hear a mixture of bird sounds. These sounds might sometimes seem like melodic tunes, tiny tweets, or outright piercing calls. But what are the names of sounds of birds?

If you’ve ever wondered about the names of sounds of birds and what they possibly mean, we’d be glad to help. Let’s give you some insight into the fascinating world of birds!

What Are the Names of Sounds of Birds?

A mother swallow feeds her young with insects on the barbed

Birds make a wide array of sounds, and each one has its own purpose. But before we try to interpret them, you should probably know the name of each sound that a bird makes first.

Sing

Birds sing when they make a musical sound. Even though people tend to confuse a song for a call, these two sounds mean different things. In fact, if you listen closely enough, you’ll find that a bird song isn’t the same as a bird call.

Not to worry. We’ll tell you the differences between the two sounds later on.

Tweet/Chirp/Twitter

We use the words twitter, chirp, or tweet when a bird makes short, but rather high sounds. If you’re a morning person, you may be familiar with the tweets of early birds.

Shriek/Cry

A bird cries or shrieks when it lets out a loud, sharp sound. Oftentimes, bird cries are associated with calls of alarm and danger.

Hoot

A hoot is a sound produced by an owl. It’s deep and quite easy to identify.

Caw

A caw is the name of the sound made by a crow. Most people are familiar with the caw of a crow. Unlike the hoot of the owl, a caw isn’t deep.

Cock-A-Doodle-Do

Author Note: This is the sound that a rooster makes, especially early in the morning. However, a lot of pet keepers argue that roosters tend to make this sound throughout the day as well. Just not as frequently as they do at dawn.

Cluck

A cluck is the short, low sound that chickens make.

Now that you know all the names of bird sounds, let’s dive a little deeper into our topic, shall we?

What Is the Difference Between Songs and Calls?

The difference between a song and a call may not always be easy to figure out. This is because birds have a wide range of songs and calls that differ from one species to another. But here’s what we can tell you about this matter.

Songs tend to be more complex than calls, not to mention that they often have a clear pattern. When it comes to songbirds and other types of birds including owls and nightjars, singing serves two purposes.

The first instance when a songbird sings is when it’s time to defend its territory. The other scenario is when trying to attract a mate. As you might have presumed, these two activities are done by males. So, when you hear a bird singing, it’s usually a he.

Bird songs are more popular during the breeding season.

On the other hand, calls are much more simple. They’re usually shorter than songs, and they only consist of one syllable. Unlike songs, calls are made by both sexes, and you can hear them all year round since they aren’t seasonal.

While most people assume that birdsongs are showy and melodic, that’s not the case with some bird species. For instance, Henslow’s Sparrow merely sings one syllable.

The fascinating thing about songbirds is that their basic call notes are born out of instinct. Yet, in some of these species, the young males must hear the song of their own species at a certain age to be able to learn it.

Later, as each one of those birds grows, every single one develops its own version of a song. This results in a huge variety of bird songs, which isn’t the case with calls.

What Are the Types of Bird Calls?

Nightingale singing at Pulborough brooks RSPB reserve

To the untrained ear, bird calls might sound all alike. Those who pay some more attention might notice changes in tempo or pitch from one call to another. But what’s really going on out there?

Contact Calls

When birds communicate with each other, they use contact calls. Typically, contact calls are necessary when looking for food.

A contact call tends to be short, fast, and quiet. It doesn’t carry or create an echo, which is important not to attract any predators. Although, birds sometimes make louder calls in case they’ve become separated from each other.

In other words, louder contact sounds are only used in urgency.

Flight Calls

Some bird species rely on flight calls when they fly in flocks. A flight call goes back and forth amongst the birds if they detect flocks of other birds passing overhead.

Author Note: When songbirds migrate, which usually happens during spring and fall, they produce flight calls, too. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to hear their distinctive chirping at night during these seasons of the year.

Alarm Calls

A really cool thing about birds is that they can produce a wide range of calls designed to respond to different sorts of threats. It’s all based on the situation and the type of danger.

For instance, if a predator is flying overhead, a songbird will make a high-pitched, yet short sound. This way, the call will end immediately without drawing the raptor’s attention. At the same time, any other bird in the same area will hear the call and stay alert.

It’s also important to note that this type of alarm call is tailored not to reveal the exact location of its maker.

In other cases, birds might have to make louder alarm calls that will carry for a distance. In this scenario, a raptor will be perched on a branch nearby waiting to attack. So, a smaller bird will make a deep, loud call to rally other birds to scare the predator away.

As you can see, it’s quite incredible how significant and meaningful a bird call can be.

Begging Calls

Young birds make begging calls sometimes when they need their parents to feed them. Usually, these little calls are made repeatedly, and they’re often accompanied by a quick fluttering of wings.

If you ever come across such sounds, you may be tempted to get outside and watch these youngsters while they noisily ask for food. Just be careful to watch from a safe distance not to bother the birds.

Does A Sound of a Bird Vary According to Its Species?

Of course. Each species has its own unique songs, calls, and tweets. In fact, bird experts can tell the species of a bird by just listening to its song.

Yes, the call of a bird can slightly change depending on the situation. Still, each species has a naturally remarkable range of sounds that makes it different from other bird species.

How Do I Identify a Bird By the Sounds It Makes?

Two Pacific Swallow( Hirundo tahitica ) birds facing each other with open beak.

If you’re new to the world of birds, it can be tricky trying to identify a bird based on its looks, let alone its songs or calls. So, what if you want to know which birds visit your yard every day?

The good news is, you can totally do it without being an expert in birding. Fortunately, many helpful apps could give you a hand. All you’ll have to do is record the sound that the bird makes, then wait for the app to analyze it.

Eventually, you’ll end up with all the information you need about the species of this bird.

Our favorite bird-identifying apps are Birdgenie and BirdNET. So, you may want to try those the next time you go for a hike in the woods to add some more fun to your experience.

What Are Some Other Noises That Birds Make?

If you watch birds closely enough, you’ll realize that they make more sounds than the ones we’ve mentioned. However, these other noises are not vocalized.

Author Note: For instance, woodpeckers drum on the barks of trees to catch food in the form of bugs. Also, the mere movement of a bird can cause the leaves to shuffle. Plus, the flapping of a bird’s wings is another subtle sound that a bird creates.

While all these noises might be too minimal to help you identify a bird species, some could still be of huge help. For example, by measuring the pace of a woodpecker’s knocks, you might be able to gather more information about its exact species. Pretty cool, right?

Final Words

While the names of sounds of birds are pretty easy to learn, knowing the meaning behind a bird’s call might be tricky.

This is because these feathery creatures have undergone centuries of evolution. So, they’ve managed to come up with numerous calls to match each one of their needs.

However, you could still manage to identify the species of a bird based on the songs it sings. With the right bird ID app, it’ll only take you a few minutes. We hope you found this article on the names of sounds of birds useful.

Fly high friends!

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