Ecology: the scientific study of … animals … in relation to environment (Gr. oikos = home). The Chambers Dictionary (11th Edition), © Chambers Harrap Publishers 2008.

Birdsong is associated with spring. The advent of the breeding season causes a outburst of song as male birds sing to establish territory and attract females.

As the foliage thickens with increasing light and temperature, song becomes an ideal signal for birds to identify members of their own species. Not only that, but studies of many species of songbird have shown that birds have local dialects – like us, the way they sound can reflect the place they were born and reared.

Scientific understanding of birdsong has given us insight into its role in:

  • sexual selection – how the competition between males is expressed in song and is affected by the choosiness of females;
  • learning and development. Only a few groups of animal show vocal learning. Songbirds (along with, e.g., humans and cetaceans [whales and dolphins]) are one such group and extensive research into song learning by young birds has given us fascinating insights into learning and development in general.

See the pages within the Science section for more details on my background in birdsong and research.