Garden birds: is it bird song or bird call?

A garden bird bursting into song: spring has sprung! But what does this sound mean? First, we have distinguish between a bird song and a bird call...

Is there a clearer sign that spring is in the air than a garden bird bursting into song early in the morning? Beautiful isn’t it? But what exactly does all that noise signal? To figure it out, we first have to distinguish between a bird song and bird call.

Bird song

A garden bird's song can be astonishingly complex. Birds sing for two reasons: to mark their territory and to find a mate. Usually only the males sing, but during the winter female robins also sometimes break into song. Some birds, such as seagulls, never sing. Maybe they’re tone deaf and shy about it, or maybe they went the way of The Little Mermaid. Only nature knows.

Bird call

The call of a garden bird is shorter and simpler. You can hear this sound year round. Both males and females call out, mainly with the intention of conveying a message to conspecifics.


Everyone knows the screeching of a blackbird tweeting out an SOS. But did you know that birds adjust their cries of warning according to the degree of danger? Take the American (black-capped) chickadee: the greater the threat, the more alarm tones it sounds.

Keeping in touch

You often hear this sound when a group of birds searches for food together. It usually sounds soft and chattering. If there’s no answer, the volume of the call goes up. A very recognizable example is a horde of house sparrows chatting in a bush.

“I’m hungry!”

Young birds have an unmistakable call to indicate that they’re hungry. This often also involves some helpless fluttering. At this young age it is difficult to tell the different species apart, but they certainly make it clear that there are young parents around!

Also want to hear chirping in your garden?

Can't wait for spring to start? Then you’re likely also looking forward to hearing the most beautiful bird songs of the coal tit, the finch and the thrush.

Would you also like to be serenaded by a concert of bird song in your garden? With Menu Nature you can attract many types of garden bird to your backyard. This way you can enjoy a private symphony of twills . And who knows, you might even learn to understand what they want to say!

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