Birds make nature's most beautiful and complex sounds. But have you ever wondered what they're saying with their songs and calls? We present a variety of recordings from our wildlife sound collections to illustrate why and how birds communicate.

Articles

The Top 10 British birdsongs

For most of us, the songs of birds have an aesthetic appeal. Here are 10 of the best to be heard in Britain.

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Sedge warbler

The purpose of birdsong

In bird biology the word "song" means any sound delivered in the nesting period, usually by a male bird for the purpose of territorial defence or the attraction of a mate.

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African grey parrot

Alex, the talking parrot

A remarkable case of avian vocal learning concerned a talking African grey parrot called Alex.

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The dawn chorus

The songs of birds are delivered most frequently each day for a period of perhaps 40 minutes after daybreak. This early birdsong is known as the dawn chorus.

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Peacock

Tail feather sounds

Use made of tail feathers as sound producers may be either by flying or by perched birds.

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Themes

Birdsong

It's the most musical of all nature's sounds, but why do birds sing?

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Sparkie Williams

Mimicry and talking birds

Some birds are excellent mimics, but can they really talk to us?

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Bird brain

How birds sing and hear

How do birds learn, produce and experience such complex sounds?

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Mute swan

Beaks, wings and tails

Which birds drum, hum, snap, bleat and clap? And why?

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Collection items

Superb lyrebird song

Date: 30 May 1995

Robin song

Date: 17 May 1998

Starling song with mimicry

Date: 23 May 1968

Sedge warbler song

Date: 21 April 2002