Learn a little bird language! Exploring the local ecosystem

Listen!

 

Stellar Blue Jay

Chirp chirp. Tweet. Awk! Caw, caw. Skree, skree, skree-chip!

   Blue Heron on a fence

Even in the city, birdsong is all around us. We call it “birdsong,” but why do they sing? Why do birds make those noises?

Well, why do people sing and make noise? Sometimes we sing for fun and from joy, and maybe birds do too. But a lot of the time we humans make sounds in order to communicate with each other. It turns out that birds are doing that, too. Other birds understand them. Sometimes other animals understand them, too!

I was amazed when I took a class at Metro and discovered that humans can learn to understand a little bit of bird language. It’s like there was a secret code going on all around me, and I never even noticed it. But now sometimes I can crack the code. I can tell when a mated pair of birds is telling each other “I’m over here -- I’m safe!” and “I’m over here -- Me too!” Sometimes the birds alert me that there is a predator nearby -- or that they are worried because I’m nearby.

Birds pay attention to everything going on around them. Paying attention to birds is a great way to get an insider’s view into some of the secrets of your local ecosystem.

Crow on Portland water fountian

Want to learn more about birds, their language or their place in our local ecosystem? Take a look at OPB’s Field Guide videos; visit a local park and take a walk with a naturalist; ask a librarian or check out some of the great books below.

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