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Home Adaptations Communication
Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC)

Communication happens when one individual receives a message sent by another.

You communicate all the time, sometimes with your movements and sometimes with your voice. Birds communicate the same way, both visually and vocally.

For birds, visual communication can involve colorful feather patterns, special postures or wing flaps, and other displays that can attract a mate, signal that it's time to go, or call for a flapping attack on a predator.

In their vocal communication, birds make use of both songs and calls. Birds are capable of a rich variety of sounds that tell other birds what they're doing, who they are, what they plan to do, and what's happening in the area. They sometimes use their wings as well as their voices to broadcast their messages. They eavesdrop on other birds for news about potential dangers and territorial ownership.

Birds are specially equipped for communica-
tion. For example, some have special wing or tail feathers that make a sound when vibrated.

Some birds have the vocal equipment to make two sounds at the same time. They're able to control the clarity of their notes. They can modify the volume as well as the complexity of their calls or songs to suit their needs.

Very young birds will chatter or chirp to beg for food. At times their chatter puts them in danger because predators can hear it just as well as their parents can. Young birds know some songs at birth and learn others as they grow. They work at learning songs from adult birds, sometimes singing in their sleep to practice them. They're trying to master the music that will help them through life, enabling them to win mates, for example.

Birds have their own body language. If you have a bird for a pet, maybe you've heard it click its beak when it feels threatened or seen it shake its head from side to side with excitement. A bird's postures can tell you as much as its calls and songs about how it feels at any given moment.

Maybe you've heard the expression, "talk is cheap." For birds, talk can be "cheep" – but it can also be very rich and even beautiful.


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