Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Passerine Vocal Communication

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_892-1


Birds of the order Passeriformes, known as passerines, include over half of the almost 10,000 known bird species (Mayr 1946). In comparison to other orders under the class Aves, passerines have a particular toe arrangement: three toes pointing forward and one pointing back (Proctor and Lynch 1993). This particular arrangement aids in perching, which has lead to the name “perching bird”.


Passerines include many songbirds, a group of more than 5,000 species that engage in vocal learning, similar to how humans, cetaceans, bats, elephants, parrots, and hummingbirds learn their vocalizations (Doupe and Kuhl 1999). Passerines, in general, are commonly referred to as songbirds, but this is not entirely correct. The order can instead be broken down into the Oscines and the Suboscines. Oscines (i.e., songbirds or “true” songbirds) have highly developed song and learn their species-typical vocalizations via a model (e.g., a parent) and have dedicated brain architecture....

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Mental Health InstituteUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Lauren Guillette
    • 1
  1. 1.University of St. AndrewsSt. AndrewsUK