Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Can different bird species understand each other’s songs? © Getty Images

Can different bird species understand each other’s songs?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Twit twoo! Different types of birds may understand what each other are saying.

Asked by: Lewis Miller, Exeter


Birdsong is more like music, rather than a true language. Birds sing to attract mates and defend territories, and the information contained in the song is basically just “Listen to my song, isn’t it pretty?” or “Keep out, this area belongs to me!”

Birds recognise the alarm calls of other species, but the song of a lovesick sparrow is of no interest to a pigeon, so there is no reason for them to pay attention.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


Sponsored content