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Yellowdog's avatar

What are birds always squawking about?

Asked by Yellowdog (8904points) 3 weeks ago

Both wild and domestic, they crawl around, or perch somewhere, always making noise—sometimes at each other, other times alone as they eat seeds, other times perched high somewhere as if announcing something. Wherever they make their noise, birds singly or in small groups, are noisy.

What is it they are communicating? It seems somewhat mindless.

Commentary and humor welcome, but please stay on topic and maybe some serious answers or discussion will emerge as well.

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16 Answers

hmmmmmm's avatar

They’re likely squawking about the vacuous nature of existence. Their squawks might be expressing existential pain of loss and suffering. They may be expressing their concerns that the temporal nature of their lives is only apparent upon reflection, causing deep, soul-crushing regret and feelings of perpetual loss. They may be wondering why life hurts more than can be expressed by mere squawks.

or not

zenvelo's avatar

The same things as you, @Yellowdog : Food, sex, liberals, and how unfair life is.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

“That human is listening us again”

Zaku's avatar

Hey Sue, I’m over here. I’m over here. Where are you? Oh. Looks like something to eat. I’m going there. Ack! Cat! Cat!

(I’d rather listen to most birdsong that to many humans who have compulsive chit chat.)

Yellowdog's avatar

I suppose the birds understand each other by assuming, “If I made a noise like that, I’d be making it because (fill in the blank) … ”

Zaku's avatar

There are people who actually study bird behavior in considerable detail, and yes, generally there are meanings that other birds understand. You can pick up some of it if you spend enough time paying attention. Not that it’s a human-style language, but you’ll get that they make different sounds at different times of day, are keeping in touch with each other and letting each other know where they are and where other things are.

Other examples include:

* Stellar Jays that mimic the screaming sounds of hawks, presumably to try to dissuade others who would rather not be around a hawk.

* Baby birds squeeking for food, of course.

* Crows and ravens in particular have pretty amazing vocalizations.

* Having been around ducks, it seems to me they are reporting location, encouraging others to come where they’re going, announcing food, and signalling by the quality of the quack what their emotional state is. Happy little excited quacks for humans handing out bread. Sudden loud scared quacks for danger.

There’s a lot of serious information available online. Here is one web site with information, a book events, etc.

ucme's avatar

As I said recently, I do good impressions of crow, pigeon & seagull, mimic them to their faces never behind their backs coz that’s just rude.

They always reply which leads me to think the majority of their interactions are simply noise for the sake of noise. Either that or I make sense to them but that would be unthinkable surely.

nerdgirl578's avatar

I always thought it was mostly to attract mates, but I guess it can be other reasons as well like warning others of danger. Or to scare other animals off, like me. Each year in spring time there are a group of seagulls who live on the roof on a building I have to walk by on my way to the store. When they have children they become really aggressive, and sometimes pretty much attack. It’s really scary, at one point one of them squawked like crazy and flew down close enough to me I could feel their claws in my hair. I read in the paper about someone who was actually attacked for real, I guess living in the middle of a town makes them less afraid of humans.

LostInParadise's avatar

Just like human infants, birds use their voices to express their feelings.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Asking for food, water, attention, to know where the flock is, to express emotion-like infants just like @Lost said. I recently rehomed my two and after 15 years, its oddly quiet in the house now.

rebbel's avatar

The tits on my balcony are very vocal.
The only thing I hear all day is: “impeach, impeach, impeach, impeach…., impeach”.

ucme's avatar

Same as the tits on here…giggity

Zaku's avatar

@ucme It’s not “noise for the sake of noise” but communication like responding to a greeting, or if not seen, a broadcast of “I’m over here (and I’m not purposely being silent, so I’m not hiding or in immediate distress)”, as well as “this is my state” which is expressed in the quality of the sound. i.e. You can pick up an expression of mood which changes in ways that I find it quite possible to relate to when the chirping is relaxed, excited, scared, in distress, or angry.

I.e. Without any need for more than repeating the same sound, chirping serves a very practical purpose, letting other birds around it know where the others are and the general situation around them. Being a bird listening to the birds around them is like 3D air traffic control data that includes whether there’s something good or bad all around them.

ucme's avatar

@Zaku Yeah but when i’m “talking” to them they reply like they’re taking the piss, can’t think why.

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