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Hummingbirds – Noise and No Noise

Hummingbirds – Noise and No Noise

Sounds are the vocal noise that each bird makes in a different event or situation. Each sound indicates different messages that they want to share with their fellow birds or the caretaker. In this article, let us have a look at some noises that the hummingbirds make.

Why do some hummingbirds make noise and others don’t?

Some hummingbirds are more vocal as compared to other birds when defending their feeding territory. Some make loud, sharp noises, while some may perch or chirp to ward off the intruders. The vocal sound of each hummingbird may vary as per the species.

Now, let’s see what sounds the hummingbirds make in different scenarios.

What different types of sounds do the hummingbirds make?

Hummingbirds make different types of sounds or calls in their language, which is a bit complex to understand. So, let us look at the different types of sounds that the birds make in different situations.

  • Alarm calls:  These are the sharp calls that the birds use to warn the other birds of their territory in case of any danger. They also use these sounds when they feel threatened by the predators around them or if any human is trying to cause them harm. These alarm calls are usually short, but it can reach greater distances due to their sharpness. Sometimes they may even create quick rapid noises to warn the other birds in case if there is more threat to them.
  • Begging Calls: These types of calls are usually made by young birds to draw attention of their parents when they need food. These sounds can be small peeps, chirps, whines, rasps, and wheezes. These sounds are not so loud but can be heard clearly in the vicinity of the nest. Baby hummingbirds will continue to make these calls even after they leave the nest, as they are still dependent on their parents. Along with their calls, you can even hear the sound of their fluttering wings and other movements. They usually do this to attract their parent’s attention.
  • Contact Calls: Birds use contact calls when they travel in flocks or when they want to give a signal to each other during their migration. These sounds are moderately loud and clear, but they are not as sharp as the alarm calls. Birds make use of these sounds to be in touch with their mates or contact them if there is a good source of food or water nearby. They might also make this sound if they want to call other birds to help their fellow bird.
  • Flight Calls: Hummingbirds make their unique sounds or calls when they are migrating to other places. These calls help them to stay in touch with their fellow birds or inform their location if they are stuck anywhere due to obstacles. Also, during their migration, they keep making these sounds to inform the birds in front of them about their presence in the flock.
  • Vocalizations: Hummingbirds have the ability to vocalize their sound. That means they can mimic the sounds of other birds and people. Their brain is larger relative to their body, and hence they have vocal learning centres similar to parrots and other songbirds. After daily listening to the sounds made by hummingbirds, you can easily notice the mimic sound made by the bird.
  • Happy Sounds: Hummingbirds chirp fast even when they are happy. They can be seen making these happy chirps during the mating season or when they see a good source of nectar. The happy sounds are usually soft and short. The chirping sound of each hummingbird may vary similar to the human voices. But, the tone and sharpness can help you to figure out if they are happy or not.
  • Songs: Some hummingbird species can repeat their chirpings and make it sound like a song. One of the hummingbird species known as the Ruby-throated hummingbird has this singing ability and can make a song from their ‘chip-chip-chip’ sound at dawn. These sounds are usually soft chirping, but the softness of the tone may vary between the hummingbirds.
  • Wing Sounds:  Most of the distinct sounds made by some hummingbirds are non vocal. This is due to their frantic wingbeats, which make clear buzzes, hums, zips or trills sounds. These flapping sounds can also be used for their identification purposes. For example, the broad-tailed hummingbird species make metallic zinging wing noise when they are moving fast during flight, but their hovering movement is usually silent.

What are some of the non vocal sounds made by the birds?

Apart from singing songs and making different calls, hummingbirds and other birds make different types of sounds which they use in the language. Here are some of the nonvocal sounds that the hummingbirds make.

  • Sounds made by the wings like the wingbeats, buzzing, chirping or trilling sounds during their flights.
  • Bill drumming sound is often made on the hollow surface to create greater volume.
  • Bill snaps or clacks when they are usually angry.
  • Scratching noises as the birds forage on the leaves litter.
  • Wing sounds made by rapidly flapping the wings while hovering when happy.

Why are some hummingbirds silent?

Hummingbirds are tiny birds who have got their names by the sounds made by their wings. They continuously flap their wings while flying or hovering to create large sounds. The stiff breezes vibrates their tail feathers and this give each hummingbird species their unique whistle sounds. But during the migration, if by mistake their tail feathers are trimmed or plucked, then these hummingbirds won’t be able to make vocal sounds.

Why are some hummingbirds louder than others?

The loudness of the calls or sounds of the hummingbirds depends on the species. Some species have the ability to make a loud chirp or other types of sound, whereas some can only make small chirps. For example, Anna’s hummingbirds are famous for making their loud chirps. They usually make this sound with their vibrating tails during their courtship.

Tips for identifying hummingbirds sound

As the hummingbirds’ sounds are different, here are the tips that might be helpful to you to identify these various sounds.

  • Daily listen to the hummingbirds that come to your backyard. By listening to their sounds every day, you can easily start to identify and become familiar with their sounds. This way it will become easier for you to recognize the unusual sounds of hummingbirds more quickly.
  • You can even listen to the recordings of different hummingbirds sound, especially of those birds who have similar sounds and also share similar ranges. You can even compare different sounds to know the exact difference between them. This is another way of learning to identify different hummingbird sounds.
  • Try to listen to the beats, pitch, sequence and duration of the different tones. This will help you to identify the sounds made by the different hummingbirds in different scenarios.
  • You can also go in your backyard when the hummingbirds come there to feed or drink water. You can start small conversations with them to create a bond. They can even try to inform your sounds through different sounds as time passes. This is also one way to try to understand different hummingbird sounds.
  • You can also try to identify the sounds made by the other birds in your area. This will help you distinguish between the other high-pitched sounds of buzzing, rattles, or chittering made by the other birds whose sounds are not the same as the hummingbirds’ sounds.


Identifying different hummingbird sounds can be a bit challenging for any bird lover. But in reality, it takes a lot of patience and practice to identify and differentiate the sounds of various hummingbird species. Therefore, listening to these sounds daily can help you identify these sounds easily and help you learn new skills for making your birding by ear easier.