How Do Birds Communicate?

Birds communicate by making vocal sounds, such as trills, squawks, clicks and singing. They also communicate by beating their wings and performing visual displays, including puffing their feathers and shrugging their shoulders.

A particular vocalization can be used for more than one type of behavior. Long, complex songs are typically used to find a mate. Short calls are used to communicate information about a predator or to identify family members. The woodpecker produces a song through the rapid hammering of its beak on a tree trunk. Each species of woodpecker has a particular song that members of the same species can distinguish.

Birds communicate for a variety of reasons, including telling other birds about territorial boundaries, finding a mate, telling other birds about food, alerting other birds about a predator and calling their chicks. Vocal communication is useful for birds that need to stay in touch with their flockmates.

Visual displays can be used to attract a mate because female birds generally pay close attention to the appearance of males. A male bird with bright colors and clean feathers announces to female birds that he is healthy. The seasons influence bird communication. Birds communicate more during spring and summer because they may be finding mates, creating nests and territories and finding food.