Communication and signalling in the language of birds - II

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Communication and Signaling in Birds
 
Birds produce meaningful communications by their facial expressions, beak movements, feather ruffling, elongating their necks, crouching, bouncing, and flapping their wings. Although each species has its own body language, many different species interpret movements in the same way. For example, various species interpret an upward thrust of the beak as expressing the intention to fly, and the lowering of the breast as a warning of danger. Also, several species perceive raising the tail feathers as a threat, or displaying bright colors atop of the head as a declaration of the intent to attack. Via facial expression, birds can convey a variety of messages to those around them-negative feelings such as dislike and resentment, as well as positive ones like pleasure, enthusiasm and curiosity.

Bird’s Facial Expressions
 
Birds produce different facial expressions by movements of the beak, or by positioning the feathers above the beak, on the chin, or atop the head. In some species, the feathers above the eye can also move independently. Moreover, many species make a display by opening their beaks. For example, the tawny frogmouth opens its beak to reveal its large, bright green oral cavity, emphasizing the size of its beak and making it appear more intimidating. Some other species open their beaks as a form of threatening behavior, usually silently, but sometimes enhance the performance with hissing or loud breathing.
 
Besides communicating by means of body language, birds produce a great variety of sounds to communicate with other members of their flock, neighbors, or family members. These range from short, simple calls to songs that are surprisingly long and complex. Sometimes birds such as the green woodpecker use different instruments or, like the American woodpecker, use special feathers to produce sound.
 
Birds also communicate through scents, although since their sense of smell is poor, their communication is based mainly on sound and sight. At times of poor visibility, as at night or in dense foliage, sound is most advantageous, and is also the ideal method for long-distance communication. If conditions are right, birdsong can be heard for up to a few kilometers.
 
In addition to song, birds also have conceptualization and communication skills. In certain circumstances, they demonstrate talents equivalent to those of children of primary-school age, learning series of words and other means of human communication through social interaction. When alone, these parrots play vocalization games and when in the company of people, they join vocalizations together to produce new assemblages from existing sequences of speech. Allah, the Creator of everything on Earth and in the skies, equips them with the talents and characteristics that set them apart. Accordingly, our praises for the supreme beauty of our environment is praise that belongs to Allah.

The Language of Calls and Songs
 
To call to one another, birds produce sounds of extremely high frequency and strength. Only a few species such as pelicans, storks, and certain vultures are mute and have no call. The acoustic calls used by birds amongst themselves form a language of sorts. Their songs, which are longer and generally related to courtship, consist of a series of notes and usually contain melodies.

Birdsong is usually heard in spring, whereas the calls, much simpler than songs, are used by both sexes and heard throughout the year. Birdcalls allow swift communication via simple messages without a great expenditure of energy.  These calls’ main functions can be listed as follows:
 

- To establish a bird’s species
- To indicate its bird's gender
- To reveal its location
- To demarcate and defend its territory
- To announce and advertise a source of food
- To let young birds recognize their own parents
- To keep the flock together when traveling
- To warn of the presence of an enemy
- To intimidate an enemy
- For courtship
 

To mark the changeover of responsibility for nesting duties such as incubating or feeding To practice and perfect their songs
 
Allah’s Miracle of Inspiration
 
Birds employ the most suitable methods of communication for their habitats and objectives. There is no question of every bird being able to know which song it should sing under which circumstances, or to calculate on its own the meaning and purpose of the song it will sing. Living things devoid of reason and judgment can exhibit such behavior because such intelligence and consideration of the future are inspired in them by Allah. Allah creates every living thing with the characteristics it requires and inspires its appropriately intelligent behavior. All living things perform only those functions that Allah inspires in them, serving as a means whereby we are able to witness His might. In one verse of the Qur’an, Allah reveals:
 

Do you not see that everyone in the heavens and Earth glorifies Allah, as do the birds with their outspread wings? Each one knows its prayer and glorification. Allah knows what they do. (Qur’an, 24:41)
 


2010-10-10 15:33:43
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