Why Do Hummingbirds Chirp? 5 Fascinating Reasons!

Hummingbirds are famous for their gorgeous plumage, long beaks used for feeding on nectar, and unique hums and sounds. By far the most renowned is the chirping sound any bird enthusiast is acquainted with!

Hummingbirds chirp when they communicate with humans or with each other. They will also chirp when they feel threatened or while performing courtship displays.

You may sometimes notice that the hummingbird enjoying your backyard feeder chirps while eating – this is a sign of contentment! Additionally, baby hummingbirds may chirp while waiting for their mothers to bring food.

why do hummingbirds chirp
Anna’s hummingbird chirping in a backyard in Oregon

Why Do Hummingbirds Chirp?

As small as they are, hummingbirds are complex creatures! The way they interact with each other, how they react to humans and predators, and the methods they rely on to protect themselves and their young – these are all highly fascinating and, at times, perplexing behaviors!

In this article, you’ll learn a bit about each and discover what role chirping plays in a hummingbird’s daily routine!

1. Communication

Hummingbirds often chirp once they start humming. This humming is produced by the rapid wingbeats, while the chirping sounds are vocalizations.

You may hear them hum and chirp especially when they’re hovering to feed or communicating with other birds (rarely males to males, as they’re highly aggressive to each other).

Sometimes these sounds are used to alert other birds of intruders. During the breeding season, an alert chirping sound may signify that a potential mate has entered the territory.

On the other hand, chirping sounds aren’t always necessarily negative vocalizations. Hummingbirds may sometimes chirp when the feeder is empty, or the nectar has gone bad. These birds are known to become quite bold and friendly with the humans responsible for fresh food!

2. Threats and Territoriality

Male hummingbirds are highly territorial. Although small, they can become quite aggressive and even fight each other if the circumstances ask for it.

The peak of aggressiveness typically occurs before the breeding season starts, as they have to establish their territories to find suitable mates.

Therefore, if a male has claimed a territory, flies leisurely around it, and suddenly another male hummingbird enters its safe space, it will produce rapid, squeaky chirps to inform the intruder that this is no joke!

Females may also rely on these sounds to protect their territories, except that they’re more aggressive during the nesting season.

Before this, female hummingbirds are more relaxed and can even share a feeding territory. Once the eggs are laid, though, things start to get serious! They can even chase the males away!

3. Courtship Displays

Vocalizations are part of a hummingbird’s courtship display. No impressive songs, no mates – that’s the rule! As such, males will perform complex songs to conquer a mate and oftentimes, these songs include chirping sounds.

Since male hummingbirds mate with multiple females during the same breeding season, you may witness such attempts quite often!

Female Anna’s hummingbirds are renowned for this behavior! In fact, the chirping sounds they produce aroused the interest of scientists from around the world, as they weren’t sure whether the chirp was produced vocally or was a mechanical sound emitted by the feathers.

It has been suggested that the loud chirp produced during a courtship dive comes from the fluttering of the outermost tail feathers at a high frequency. The hummingbird basically opens its tail feathers during a dive and this produces a distinctive chirping sound. When the male is close to the female, on the other hand, it will emit the same sound by using the syrinx (vocal cords).

4. Feeling Happy

Bird-watching enthusiasts reported that they’ve spotted hummingbirds chirping while feeling happy and content! So, if you spot a hummingbird enjoying your backyard bird feeder and producing soft and short chirps while feeding, you can take it as a big thanks for providing the food! If it’s a male, the better!

As you probably already know, a male hummingbird’s wings are smaller than a female’s, which is why they’re so territorial – they’re trying to avoid the extra effort to fly around looking for food and, therefore, secure a place with enough food. As such, if it claims your feeder, it must be quite happy with the win!

If you don’t notice anything in the vicinity that may threaten its tranquility, you can rest assured that the chirping is a positive vocalization!

5. Baby Hummingbirds Seeking Attention

Baby hummingbirds also chirp! The sounds they produce are similar to the chirping vocalizations emitted by males when defending their territories.

However, they are too young to engage in such complex behavior! The hatchlings are simply seeking attention from their mother. The chirps are probably signaling that the time is up and feeding must occur now!

Hummingbirds Chirping at You: Spiritual Meaning

Considering their gentleness, elegance, and beauty, it’s no wonder birds are now widely regarded as symbols of joy, freedom, spirituality, and kindness!

Hummingbirds aren’t an exception! Although they can become quite aggressive to each other, people are still in love with these tiny birds. The aggression is, after all, only a survival means!

Spotting a hummingbird in the wild or having one visit your backyard to feed is truly a joy for any bird enthusiast! What if it chirps at you? Does this vocalization carry any spiritual meaning?

Hummingbirds are seen as symbols of vibrancy, agility, energy, effectiveness, healing, vitality, joy, and good luck.

Were you waiting for a sign from the universe regarding a problem that needed to be solved or a situation that kept you awake at night? Maybe a hummingbird’s chirp was your sign!

Let’s say, for instance, that you were planning to change your job but weren’t sure about it. Seeing a hummingbird chirp at you may be just what you’ve been looking for, as it probably informs you that you have enough energy to start a new journey that may eventually heal you and fill your life with joy!

FAQs

Why Do Hummingbirds Chase Each Other?

Hummingbirds chase each other if they’re defending their territories or trying to attract mates. If a hummingbird intrudes on another’s feeding territory, the owner will chase it away. They’re highly aggressive in this regard.

Do Hummingbirds Have Vocal Cords?

Hummingbirds do have vocal cords, but they aren’t as strong as those of other birds, which is why their sounds aren’t as loud, but undoubtedly loud enough for us to hear them!

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