Backyard Chirper

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Young birds try to enhance song to impress female

For all those teenaged boys trying to be cool to impress a girl, you’re not alone.

According to a recent scientific finding, teenage male songbirds do something similar by significantly improving the way they sing whenever a female is around.

The study documented the song of the zebra finch because of its resemblance to human speech development. Unlike cats and other animals, songbirds learn complex songs from their parents and learn through trial and error like humans.

For years, birders and scientists simply thought that young birds could not sing complex songs and could only babble like a baby. However, when a female was around, the young zebra finch sang much better and focused on parts of the song it knew very well in order to impress her.

One of the scientists from the University of California, San Francisco went into more detail with a science publication:

Normally, the young birds’ song is quite poor because they are practicing their vocalization through the trial-and-error process, said the first author of the study, Satoshi Kojima, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Doupe lab. “Something must be happening in response to a reinforcing social cue that allows them to pick out and produce their best possible performance. This demonstrates the power of social cues to shape brain behavior.”

Just like the New Caledonian crows I blogged about earlier, these birds can reveal a lot about our behavior.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. […] birder can tell you that birds are extremely intelligent animals. We’ve seen zebra finches show thoughtful social behavior and New Caledonian Crows use tools to solve […]

  2. i love birds like these and i wanna say that the birds are really a nutural buty of the universe and try to help birdssafethem please everyone try to under stand

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