This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Nuts and Bolts: tell it to the birds.

Birds sing. Well, some birds sing. Some croak (crows), burble (turtle doves) belch (capercaillie) squeak (many birds, including starlings), and some sound as if they're being painfully murdered (water rail).

But when the singing birds sing, are they really singing, or just making a noise that sounds like singing?

Well, a bird that's producing a long-lasting series of sounds is most probably showing off to attract a mate - so that's very like human song. 

Bird song is also to do with maintaining territory - as are the chants men sing at sports events. 

What about other noises birds make?

A bird's contact note is used when in a flock, especially in places where vision isn't easy, such as in woodland or while flying in the dark. 

Humans tend not to go into woodland in large numbers (and neither do they fly around much in the dark). But if they do, you may have observed that they're generally unusually noisy.

A bird's call note is a simple sound to indicate what and where they are, and what they're doing. Nowadays humans have developed a tendency to outsource these functions to electronic devices, but they still sometimes use Hey! or Hi! or even the more musical Yoo-hoo! from time to time to announce themselves.  

Finally, birds will have an alarm note - a hasty squawk of some kind.

And an alarmed human, as you will have observed, makes pretty much exactly the same noise.

Word To Do Today: sing. This word is ancient. The Old English form was singan, and so was the Old High German.