“Birds sing even after the storm.”

Birdsong is fascinating and even scientists are interested in it. An American research team has even managed to mathematically analyse the song of the domestic canary. They showed that the bird uses syllables and phrases depending on its environment.

But can every bird sing? And which birds sing the best?

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Can Every Bird Sing?

At sunrise on a spring day, the air is filled with the sound of birds tweeting and chirping. They’re back and sound happy about it.

Which birds can sing?
Not every bird can sing. (Source: jplenio)

But which birds are the ones making all these beautiful melodies?

Most species of birds sing in adulthood. Chicks learn to sing by copying their parents and counterparts.

Some species, such as storks, don’t sing at all. They neither tweet, chirp, or whistle. They clack their beaks to communicate with others. If you’re looking for beautiful melodies, you won’t find any from a stork.

However, most birds tend to sing. Each bird has a song that can be used to distinguish itself from other species and to also communicate without being able to see other birds. Birds can recognise a fellow member of their species even if they can’t see them.

Birds don’t sing throughout the year, either. More often than not, birdsong is used to attract a mate and will be heard during their mating season This is why birdsong is at its loudest during spring when a lot of species are looking for a mate. Some species stop singing once they’ve found a mate whilst others will keep at it as they look to attract several mates and continue singing to attract further partners.

However, birds also sing outside of the mating season. Birdsong can be used to signal danger, find other members of the flock, and send useful information to one another. This means that it’s quite normal to hear birdsong during the summer and even later in the year.

Birdsong is also more common in the morning as they mark their territory. During the day, birds are often busy looking for food and building nests to spend their time chirping. They’ll explore their surroundings to do this.

Some birds have very sophisticated calls and species like the thrush are capable of a broad range of sounds.

Some birds, like nightingales, are famous for their melodic calls. On the other hand, the grey heron has a call that’s far from music to anyone’s ears.

SpeciesSong notes
RobinHigh-pitched varied tones
GoldfinchDynamic
CanaryDynamic and fast
BlackbirdVariable crescendo
NightingaleVery variable
Asian koelDeep and long notes
Rose-breasted grosbeak
Very varied notes
Song thrushA variety of different songs
SparrowShort notes

Learn more about how birds sing

Robins

The robin is quite a common bird in gardens across the UK. You can recognise it by the red plumage on its chest.

It can be found almost everywhere from northern Europe to central Asia and northern Africa as this species generally looks for warmth.

The species has been known since the time of the Romans.

What is a robin's song like?
The robin's song is particularly pleasing to the ear. (Source: JillWellington)

The robin will approach people, especially if they’re offering seeds or breadcrumbs.

It sings throughout the year. Its song is very high pitched with varied rhythms and tones.

The robin can live alone or in a couple, but unlike other species, it doesn’t flock with others of its species in the winter, which is why the robin will defend its territory throughout the year.

Find out why birds sing

Goldfinches

Goldfinches are among some of the beautiful birds to be found in British gardens. With their red, yellow, and black feathers, they’re instantly recognisable and will often be seen in couples or groups. The goldfinch is a victim of its success. Its song has led to a market for the birds. Due to abuse, the goldfinch is protected in a lot of places.

What does a goldfinch sound like?
You should listen out for goldfinches and their lovely song. (Source: ginger)

When captured, goldfinches can quickly die of stress or anxiety from being put in a cage.

However, it’s quite easy to find goldfinches whilst out and about and you’ll recognise their dynamic and varied song. While not as high-pitched as that of the robin, the goldfinch song is quick with several high-pitched chirps in quick succession. To better observe them, wait for a couple to land in your garden and keep an eye on them as they return to a bush or tree.

During the mating season, you can easily find goldfinches in chestnut or linden trees. They look for leafy trees for material to build their nests.

Canaries

Much like the goldfinch, the canary is also a victim of its success. Originally from the islands that bear its name, it's thought that following the Spanish conquest of the Canary Islands, the Spanish imported the bird into Europe. The canary is easily recognisable thanks to its yellow feathers. That said, there are white and red canaries.

The canary is famous for being quite smart, too. It’s a lively and playful bird that’s also excellent at singing. Its song is as dynamic and lively as that of the goldfinch and arguably more pleasing to the ear.

The male’s song is often more intense than that of the female.

Find out how to recognise birdsong

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Blackbirds

You could argue that the blackbird is the Beethoven of birds. Blackbirds can produce a large variety of sounds and their song includes a lot of complicated melodies. They are some of the nicest-sounding birds to be found in the spring. Its song also tends to intensify or crescendo.

You can see and hear blackbirds in the woods or your garden and, as the name suggests, this bird is completely black except for its yellow/orange beak.

They’ll approach you if you have some seeds or grains. However, you mightn’t always hear them sing.

Nightingales

The nightingale is famous for its song and is one of the nicest sounding birds on this list. It can sing day or night and has quite a few songs in its repertoire, which can make it difficult to categorise.

You’d sometimes think you were in the Amazon rainforest when you listen to it. However, nightingales are found in European and Asian forests.

We recommend listening out for nightingales in the evening as they’re often among the last birds to stop singing.

Like a lot of bird species, the male sings more loudly than the female.

Learn more about imitating birdsong

Asian Koels

This bird, as the name suggests, isn’t found in Europe, but rather in Asia and Australia. Black with a long tail, the Asian koel has a very distinctive song.

What does an Asian Koel sound like?
While you won't hear them in the UK, the Asian koel has a birdsong that you should hear. (Source: giani)

You can find Asian koels in many Indian villages and you’ll likely hear the males calling the females. The male sings differently from the female.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The rose-breasted grosbeak is famous for its song but also for its beauty. With its black, white, and red plumage, it sings proudly in central America in the winter and in North America in the summer.

It can make a lot of different notes and tones but is sadly endangered due to the destruction of its habitat.

Thrushes

Have you heard police or ambulance sirens abroad?

Different countries have different sounds and the thrush sounds like some of the more obscure ones. When the thrush sings, it can sometimes sound quite random.  As it sings a variety of notes and melodies, it can make the thrush easier to identify.

Sparrows

This bird is famous all around the world and is very familiar to humans. You can easily find them in your garden or hanging about in trees in the street or park. It will regularly sing throughout the day.

If you'd like to learn more about birds, their calls, imitating them, or even singing, consider getting in touch with a private tutor through the Superprof website. There are tutors offering lessons in a huge variety of subjects and skills across the country and worldwide, either one on one, online, or in groups. Each type of tutoring comes with advantages and disadvantages so think about why you want to learn and how you prefer to learn.

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Jess