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Science Proves That Birds Can Learn New Tunes

Humans learn to pronounce words from a very young age. We are usually taught by those who care for us how to talk and we may eventually learn a second language as a teenager or an adult. One of the best ways to learn a language is to sing in it.

It has always been a curiosity for people whether or not all animals sound the same, regardless of origin. The truth is, animals from different parts of the world make their own distinct vocalizations.

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What we have never really known about our animal friends, though, is if they can imitate the sounds of their cousins living thousands of miles away.

There has been speculation over how birds learn to make their calls, some research suggesting they learn to sing in the same way we learn to speak. Through a variety of experiments with lab birds, scientists learned there was a special period during a bird’s life where they are more inclined to learn their vocalizations from other older birds.

Can the same be said of wild birds? One group of scientists wanted to conduct a study with wild Savanna Sparrows that were located on the Bay of Fundy, an island in the east of North American that has been observed by scholars since the 1960s.

What the group did was record the calls of Savanna Sparrows located on the west of North America, and proceeded to play them for the birds in the Bay of Fundy. Through a series of well-placed loudspeakers, they played the ‘western’ bird noises for a full six years.

During breeding season in 2014, researchers were happily surprised to hear a call from a bird matching one of the recorded bird songs.

The study of the Savanna Sparrow shows us just how complex even the smallest of birds can be.

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