Everyone knows that birds sing songs to communicate with each other. Different songs are used to warn other of predators, attract mates, and find food. But how far do these songs really go? How complex are birds' languages? Well, as some scientists have found out, they're more complex than people think.
Parrots especially have been studied for their extreme vocal abilities, able to mimic nearly every sound they hear. But they don't just mimic. They also have a language and words of their own. Parrots have been recorded using specific sounds to get other parrots' attention. As it turns out, these sounds are the parrots' names. That's right, parrots have specific, individual names. A study by Cornell University on wild parrots in Venezuela showed that the parent parrot (try saying that five times fast) actually names their children. Parrots name their children just like humans name theirs.
But it's not just parrots that have intricate workings to their songs. Bengal finches actually have grammar and syntax to their songs, and they get pissy if it's wrong. Researchers at Kyoto University recorded some of these finches' songs and mixed them up. When they played them back to the finches, they threw a fit. They played the song to a different group of finches, who also reacted in the same way. It turns out that these birds have some strict grammar rules and don't like it when they're messed up.