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Still Waters

How Birds Learn To Sing

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Still Waters

Birds learn to sing in much the same way humans learn to talk: by listening to, and then imitating, the vocal sounds of their elders. Of course, those sounds rarely come out right the first time, but a fledgling's sense of hearing can tell her just how off the mark she is. If a note is too low, she'll know to whistle it higher next time, and that feedback helps birds (and us) learn how to communicate.

It sounds simple, but the details of how a bird interprets an auditory signal that she herself has produced then uses it to correct her melody aren't totally clear. In fact, a recent study shows that some mistakes in vocalization are simply too big to rectify.


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Maybe the big mistakes are the beginning of a new hit song. You get tired of the same ole tune.

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