when does a bird sing meaning

If you ask any eight year old, or older, why a bird sings, theyll tell you things like: to attract a mate, to mark their territory, to warn other birds, etc. Same thing if you google the question.

The other day, waking up to the sounds of a bird orchestra, I was thinking, these sorts of explanations have to be too limited. Really, do birds sing all morning long solely simply to engage in basic transactions. Perhaps they just sing for the pleasure of it at times.

So, I looked up, “do birds sing for pleasure” and I was directed to some articles about how birdsong releases dopamine and therefore birds sing (tongue-in-cheek a bit), “to get high.”

Imagine if some advanced species of aliens studied humans and determined that we sing and dance solely to “attract mates” and “get high” (because dancing releases serotonin).

Truly, for both birds and humans, might it be said that we fundamentally enjoy these behaviors (song, language, dance) and simply put them to use for particular functions? And here, when I say, “enjoy” I dont mean, reap the benefits of a chemical – but something more holistic.

This all speaks to the fundamental problem of turning all of our explanations of behavior – life, really – into atomic functions, manipulated by evolution. That is not to say evolution does not put them to use, but there is more to it than that. Moreover, could we even say that species – through evolution – stumble upon something beautiful (perhaps transcendentally), which we enjoy for the sake of it, in itself, but can also be applied for more specific purposes?

So… since this is AskPhilosophy… does what Im outlining here align with any philosophical projects? Perhaps this is related to phenomenology – I dont know. Id love to read anything that expands upon what Im saying here.

(p.s., sorry for the academic paper-ish title of this post) Archived post. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast.

2. Singing To Find Mates

The syrinx, an organ found in birds, has two bronchial tubes, which enable most of them to sing simultaneously in two pitches.

They can produce a wide range of song pitches and power levels since they have independent control over both tubes. A lot of human vocalists would be envious of this ability.

Typically, most singing birds are male. They display their skill by utilizing a range of notes and noises.

Nonetheless, some female birds, such as those found in tropical regions, can sing fairly well, and birds can even duet with one another.

Here’s an example of a Cardinal song. One species found in the north that has both male

When male cardinals sing for their mates, they use sweeping notes that allow them to smoothly transition between a wide range of notes.

It’s a method for the man to impress the women and get their attention with his singing abilities.

Their two voiceboxes produce a wider range of notes than what can be produced with a keyboard. The intricacy of their situation serves as a deterrent for other male cardinals to enter their territory.

Birds are not born knowing how to sing for mates. They must instead listen to and pick up knowledge from other mature songbirds.

Then they practice those songs until they perfect the notes. Certain birds, such as mockingbirds and catbirds, can imitate other animals or even automobile alarms.

This explains why, as a bird ages, its songs can occasionally become more intricate and challenging to mimic.

It has been suggested that a more intricate song indicates the bird’s capacity to outlive its competitors, making it more appealing to females.

This also means that by comparing the songs of different birds and listening for which one seems more complex, you can occasionally determine which bird is older or more dominant.

4. Singing During Different Times of The Day

Observing the various vocalizations that birds use at different times of the day and night is also fascinating.

A bird’s morning song may sound very different from its afternoon or evening song on occasion.

These dynamics can provide fascinating insights into the thoughts of nearby birds.


One explanation for why birds sing at first light is that this is often the time of day when their voices travel the farthest.

The wind is typically less noticeable.

Birds may use dawn singing to communicate with other birds that they are well and made it through the night as well as to listen for their neighbors.

If you pay close attention, you’ll hear that bird song often sounds much more intense at dawn.


Many birds will continue to sing throughout the day, especially during nesting times, even though the dawn chorus is typically our most intense period of song.

This is particularly true in areas where afternoon temperatures don’t rise too high.

The same motivations still drive bird song at this time of day, but you’ll frequently notice that it sounds a little more relaxed or lazy.

During this time, birds sing to keep other birds away from their territory and food sources.

Night Singers

Numerous nocturnal birds are also present; they primarily sing at night.

Their nocturnal lifestyle is largely to blame for this discrepancy. When birds are active and need to either maintain territories or attract a mate, they just concentrate on singing.

These nocturnal birds that sing at night include nightingales, hooting owls, mockingbirds, and whip-poor-wills.

I absolutely love the sound of the Whip-Poor-Will’s song.

1. Singing For Territory

When a territory is claimed, birds communicate with one another by singing.

Since they are in direct competition with other members of their own species for food, these songs are typically directed towards them.

For this reason, birds of different species can coexist quite happily in close proximity as long as they keep their distance from one another.

Birds choose their territory based on survival needs such as:

The following are some points to consider regarding bird territories and song:

Territory size depends on the individual bird species.

Certain birds require a large amount of room and minimal competition for food. Some birds are more willing to share parts of their territory and live in communities with other birds.

Thus, each of these species dynamics influences the intensity of song produced by a single songbird.

How much area each bird needs will also depend on the quality of the land.

When resources are plentiful, birds will require less space on the land. However, if the land is barren and food is scarce, they will require more.

A higher population of a particular species will therefore be supported in an ideal landscape with an abundance of resources. This explains why there seems to be a lot more song in some settings than others.

Good territory can draw mates, as can the song that comes from it.

It will be simpler for a bird to draw in a mate if it has established a good location for mating and nesting.

Certain birds, such as the American Robin, will perch atop a conspicuous high post to sing, ensuring that their song reaches as far as possible.

Here’s an American Robin song:

Some birds, such as sparrows, use a different tactic, circling their territory slowly while singing from various spots.

Here’s a Song Sparrow song:

Additionally, there are social birds that don’t appear to give a damn about territory.

Sometimes, flock-traveling birds like swifts, swallows, or waterfowl don’t keep very defined or expansive territories.

They share the rest of the area with the flock, but they are more concerned about the immediate vicinity of their nesting site.


Do birds sing when they feel safe?

“People find birdsong relaxing and reassuring because over thousands of years they have learnt when the birds sing they are safe, it’s when birds stop singing that people need to worry. Birdsong is also nature’s alarm clock, with the dawn chorus signalling the start of the day, so it stimulates us cognitively.”

Are birds happy when they sing?

Biologists believe that birds don’t sing purely to mark out territory or find a mate. They also do it because they enjoy it — and when they enjoy it most of all it sounds like free-form jazz. Research suggests that birds get a buzz out of singing from the opioids it produces in their brains.

What is the bird’s singing a song symbolic of?

The caged bird is a symbol of imprisonment, while his song is a symbol of freedom. This analysis shows that this poem has used literary devices to point out the importance of freedom before the Civil War era and even now.

What does it mean when a bird sings all night?

Why do birds sing at night? Some species, like the Eastern Whip-poor-will, are nocturnal and only communicate after dark because that’s when they’re awake. Others, like Northern Mockingbirds, are typically active during the day but will vocalize into the night when searching for mates.