Birds are like mother nature’s juke box. Their songs and sounds fill the morning air.
Birds have different kinds of calls. Just as you and I will change our tone, delivery and volume depending on what we’re doing or trying to communicate, birds – especially hummingbirds, have many ways of doing this.
LET’S START WITH THE HUM
You can’t take the hum out of the hummingbird, but then again – that has nothing to do with the bird’s song. The hummingbird’s wings are responsible for that sound. More on that in a minute.
Some of the sounds a bird makes are vocal sounds which are made by a special organ only birds possess called the syrinx. These sounds are usually made to defend or to impress. Hummingbirds are especially territorial, so a majority of the sounds they make are warnings to other birds. The syrinx is small and generally not capable of creating complex vocalizations.
Hummers have regular calls, aggressive calls, and they do sing songs. Mostly they just chirp.
Many hummingbird sounds are produced by the feathers of the wings or tail vibrating against the air. The male broad-tailed hummingbird of the Rocky Mountain region has an especially impressive sound. You can always tell when an adult male broad-tail flies past, because of the high, metallic trilling of his wings.
Some of the sounds you hear from hummingbirds come from the males fighting for territory. They duel with their beaks, clicking a distinct clicking sound.
While they sound very much alike to humans, there are distinct differences between the sounds made by different hummingbird species. Some hummers squeak, still others make a whirring sound or a shrill wing whistle.
What’s your favorite hummingbird sound?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Avian Beauty. Thanks for listening.
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Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.