Temperatures are rising, as they should. Summer is here, and early morning is probably the most comfortable time to spend outside.

I love to sit out on my back porch as soon as I get up for some quiet time — with a cup of coffee, of course. It’s pleasant, there’s usually a bit of a breeze, and I can almost feel nature waking up around me.

One of the most pleasurable parts of the early morning is hearing the birds waking to the new day. As they fly from their roosts, they begin not only to feed, but to sing.

If you spend any time outside on a consistent basis, you will find that many birds of the same species make more than one type of sound.

Birds have both songs and calls, and there are differences and purposes for each that many of us don’t realize. And I’m hoping this column will motivate you to go out in the mornings and discover their calls for yourselves.

Birds have songs that can be quite intricate and contain a musical component. Interestingly, it’s mostly the male birds that sing. Songs are learned from their fathers and can advance in complexity and dialect over the life of the bird.

Songs may distinguish males from each other for breeding, establishing a territory and communicating with mates. Some birds sing to compete for females, and many species will go as far as to imitate other birds or inanimate objects.

According to the All-Birds.com website, there can be two types of songs in a bird’s repertoire. One is the “loud song” we can easily hear and the other is the “whisper song,” which is much more discreet.

Birds also have calls. There are not as harmonious as the songs. These can be just a quick burst of notes and are year-round and not found to be associated with breeding.

Communicating with each other using calls can be very important between birds in an area or region.

Calls may signify that a predator is near or it is time to roost or time for a coordinated effort or a food source has been found.

Believe it or not, studies have been done to study bird calls and behavior, and it is thought that even birds of different species can understand or communicate with each other.

We’ve all seen baby birds on videos calling out to their parents for food. It seems the parent birds can recognize and distinguish the calls of their own babies from others.

I think it’s fun to be able to listen to a bird’s song or call and know which species I’m hearing.

What helps with this, if you decide to try to develop this skill, is having a pair of binoculars handy as well as a bird field guide. Using your sense of hearing and sight, these come together to form an enjoyable experience with nature and can develop a lifelong hobby that can be shared with loved ones.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com

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