How to Attract Birds with Sounds

Mosaic Birds by Couronne Co.

A bird’s hearing is one of its most well-developed senses and is vital for its survival. Hunters may use various call tools or whistles while out in the field to aid in attracting birds. When it comes to your yard or outdoor space, there are many easy and inexpensive ways to incorporate more welcoming, pleasant sounds to invite feathered friends for your viewing pleasure.

How Birds Hear
Birds have funnel-shaped ears surrounded by short auricular feathers that concentrate sound, allowing them to more finely distinguish between pitches, tones, and rhythms. Certain species such as penguins can distinguish the call of their own chicks from a flock of thousands. Owls can hear small rodents beneath a layer of snow to track their future meal. Many females base their mate selection on the male’s singing ability which may be an indication of better health and experience.

Best Sounds to Attract Birds

Sounds can alert birds to food, water, shelter, and other necessary resources. The following are sounds that best capture the attention of backyard birds.

  1. Water splashes – Adding a fountain to bird baths that exude a bubbling, dripping, or gurgling sound will attract birds who want to frolic or have a drink while resting
  2. Insect buzzes – Bugs are a vital source of protein for fledglings. Soft chirps of insects will attract hungry birds seeking an easy-to-find snack.
  3. Bird chatters– Birds have their own version of “fear of missing out”. This social species loves to investigate sounds of an energetic gathering and will drop in to investigate.
  4. Pishing– This is a subtle sound made by humans to attract birds. These little sounds let birds know you are around, maybe setting out food or sitting on the patio with a snack. Pishing could include phrases such as “pssh”, psst, “sip” “seep” “chit-chit-chit”, or various tongue clicks.. Over time, birds will begin to associate your presence with these ticks and know they are in a safe zone.

Types of birds that frequently respond to pishing include:

  • Chickadees
  • Finches
  • Jays
  • Kinglets
  • Nuthatches
  • Sparrows
  • Titmice
  • Warblers
  • Wrens

Sounds to avoid

  • Loud volumes. So that birds can be cautious and on alert to predators, they will flee any noise loud enough to camouflage sounds of danger. Even if the sound is from something otherwise soothing like a waterfall, birds like to be in an environment where they feel safe.
  • Predators. Larger birds of prey, and even the family cat, fall into this category. If birds detect predators, they will learn to avoid your backyard entirely.
  • Music. While birds produce beautiful music, they are not fans of loud music from the human species. Soft, soothing melodies may be recognized and tolerated but high volumes will cause birds to seek another location.
  • Humans. Repeat visitors may become accustomed with your voice, but boisterous or prolonged conversations, loud laughter, rowdy children, or even pets may cause birds to temporarily choose a different feeding or landing spot.
  • Repeated unnatural noises. Often repetitive noises such as a creaking gate or squeaky door become part of everyday life and are overlooked by homeowners. They may, however, be startling enough to scare away any birds considering a visit.
  • Excessive recordings. Apps with bird calls can be entertaining and a great way to educate yourself on different species to better identify birds of your area. An occasional mimic is ok but repetitive use may stress the birds and cause them to relocate.

Using Sounds to Attract Birds

Consider the following tips to encourage extended visitation and birdwatching opportunities.

1. Add a dripper/bubbler to birdbaths.

Click here for a short video on creating a very simple yet effective, low-tech birdbath dripper.

2. Rain chains are an attractive and functional addition to downspouts. There is a vast assortment to choose from that range from simple to ornate designs.

Depending on the features, the chain will initiate different sounds once rain begins to trickle through and are an affordable and fun way to direct runoff away from your home, possibly into a collection container for reuse in the garden.

They are also a tranquil form of white noise for homeowners to enjoy during rainy days.

3. Small wind chimes. The delicate twinkling of small chimes can imitate sounds of songbirds or a boisterous gathering to attract these social creatures.

4. Noisy insects. Chirps, tweets, and buzzes of various bugs already housed in your garden or yard. Minimize the use of insecticides to maximize your insect population.

5. Place feeders away from children’s play areas or pet spaces. Birds may be leery of lively, boisterous broods whether at a park or in the yard.

Words Mosaic Birds in green, with by Couronneco in black, and a orange bird illustration.