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How do birds learn to sing?

A brown thrasher knows a thousand songs. A wood thrush can sing two pitches at once. A mockingbird can match the sounds around it — including car alarms. These are just a few of the 4,000 species of songbirds. How do these birds learn songs? How do they know to mimic the songs of their own species? Are they born knowing how to sing?

Learn how these animals vocalize in this TED Ed lesson by Partha Mitra. The animation showcases authentic bird songs recorded in the wild.

Plus, listen to young zebra finches memorize the songs of their fathers, a video from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

Next, enjoy more animal sounds including The Fanciest Bird in the World: Superb Lyrebird, By The River, an animated introduction to five kinds of birds, and a close up of a Carolina Wren as it feeds its nesting baby birds.

Plus: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Song Hero.

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