There is a lot more to bird song than meets the ear. Digital recording and computer technology have enabled researchers to study, in detail, various song-birds’ reactions to neighboring birds’ songs.
In most species, singing is the male’s job. There is much more going on when he sings than simply establishing territory or attracting a mate. Researchers refer to one characteristic of bird song as “song matching.” While a male bird doesn’t like another male in his territory, he is more tolerant of a related male in a neighboring territory than of a complete stranger. A male will challenge a stranger by repeating the stranger’s song. Researchers have concluded from bird behavior that such “matching” is a challenge to the stranger and shows a willingness to increase aggressive behavior. Just as when people argue, birds raise the aggression level by beginning their song before their challenger finishes his. However, as long as the neighbor shows no aggressiveness, male birds seldom match a neighbor’s song. Decreased aggression is signaled by singing a song that’s different from the neighbor’s. Researchers also observed that rather than territory, the challenger is sometimes simply trying to lure away a male’s mate.
While we appreciate the beauty of bird song, it is a very complex way of communication. Such complex communication points to the Creator Who gave us His Word.