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Bird Song - How Do Birds Sing?
Bird Song Production and Anatomy:
The voice-box of birds is not the larynx with its vocal cords, as in mammals, but the syrinx, a bony structure that is unique to birds. Birds have a larynx, but it lacks vocal chords.
In song birds, the syrinx is located at the lower end of the trachea, or windpipe, where the two bronchi join, surrounded by an air sac.
Specialized sets of syringeal muscles control the movement of the syrinx, including the tension on the membranes.
How do Birds Sing Different Songs?
Just as different sounds are produced on a guitar by vibrating strings of varying length and tension, the bird uses different degrees of tension produced by the syringeal muscles to achieve variety in their song.
Birds can vary both the intensity (loudness) and frequency (pitch) of sounds by altering the air pressure passing from the lungs to the syrinx and by varying the tension exerted by the syringeal muscles on the membranes.
A few species have no syrinx at all, such as vultures and some storks.?You will never hear melodic singing coming from these birds!
In general, the more primitive birds have fewer syringeal muscles. Mimics and others that produce a wide variety of bird song sounds, like the crow, mockingbird, and starling have a greater number of syringeal muscles.
The Lyre Bird demonstrates his complex song ability: