1Biology Animal Sounds
  1. Mammals

      Mammals make sounds by passing air from the lungs through vocal folds (vocal cords) in the larynx, which is located at the top of the trachea.

      Eastern Gray Squirrels may squawkwhen alarmed.

      Sometimes you may also hear one gnawing on a black walnut shell.

      Coyotes generally hunt in small packs consisting of a breeding pair and close relatives.

      You may hear them calling as individuals, or in a small chorus.

      Vervet Monkeys can communicate with each other by making different alarm calls.

      A slow alarm call is made when an eagle is seen; other monkeys respond to this alarm call by hiding in bushes.

      A more rapid alarm call is made when a leopard is spotted; other monkeys respond to this alarm call by running to trees.

      Beluga Whale are "canaries of the sea".

      Each pod sings a distinct melody:

  2. Frogs

      Frogs vocalize by closing their nostrils and mouth, and forcing air from the lungs to vibrate the vocal cords in the larynx.

      Some male frogs, such as this Green Treefrog, have vocal sacs that can fill with air and resonate like a drum.

      Spring Peepers sing true to their name: males start their chorus of "peeps" in early spring.

      Western Chorus Frogs start singing in early April, often in a "chorus" of several males.

      The males' mating calls sound like running a finger over the teeth of a comb.

      Eastern Gray Treefrogs can change from a bright green to gray (almost brown) in seconds.

      Green Treefrogs are bright green, and often have a creamy line from the jaw along its sides.

      Green Frogs can grow to be as large as Bullfrogs.

      They sound like they are trying to cough out something caught in their throat.

      Bullfrogs emit a low, humming call that can be loud and persistent.

      American Toads emit a low, humming call that can be loud and persistent.

      amplexus Males and females mate in an embrace called "amplexus".

      Occasionally 2 males may be engaged in amplexus; then the male being clasped will make a release call:

  3. Birds

      Birds do not have vocal cords but have a structure at the bottom of the trachea called a syrinx.

      Muscles around the syrinx contract to allow vibrations in the walls of the syrinx when air flows from the lungs, producing sound.

      Canada Geese often call as a flock flies overhead.

      The male's sound is a low a-honk, while the female's a higher pitched a-hink.

      During breeding season, a pair may alternate their honks as if the sound is from a single bird: a-hink-a-honk-a-hink-a-honk.

      Sandhill Cranes migrate in large V-formations, often noisily honking.

      Flocks sometimes can be seen circling overhead, gliding on thermals rising from the concrete jungle below.

      American Robins sing a melodic, cheery carol, often heard at dawn.

      Sometimes a bird may pronounce short "peek" and "tut" calls:

      When alarmed, it may also give a "whinny" call:

      Early American colonists named this bird for its similarity to the European Robin, which also has a "red breast".

      Sometimes the name "Robin" may cause a little cultural confusion, as in the movie Mary Poppins

      "A Spoonful of Sugar" in the movie Mary Poppins features an American Robin rather than the European Robin, though the story takes place in London.


      Black-billed Cuckoo.

      Song Sparrows sing a melodic tune that begins with three introductory notes, followed by a series of faster trills.

      Here we hear 5 individual variations of this theme.

      One representation of the song is "maids, maids, maids, put on your tea-kettle-ettle-ettle-ettle."

      Field Sparrows sing an accelerating whistle that end in a trill.

      The trill may sound like a ping-pong ball dropping on a table.

      Mourning Dove males begin to sing in early spring to attract females.

      Their sorrowful cooing notes are often mistaken for the hoots of an owl.

      When taking off, their wings can make a whistling sound, or "wing whistle".

      Northern Mockingbirds can mimic the calls of other birds.

      It often repeats a song segment three or more timesm and can often be heard singing at night.

      Gray Catbird is another bird mimic.

      It usually does not repeat its phrases, and also has a meow-like call.

  4. Fish

      Some fish can make sounds by forcing air through their swim bladder.

      A pair of "sonic muscles" attached to the walls of the swim bladder allow the air to vibrate and create sound.

      A swim bladder is a sac that can be filled with air to keep the fish afloat and upright.

      The fish making this humming sound is called Plainfin Midshipman.

      Atlantic Croakers sing as part of their spawning ritual.

      The sounds are produced by vibrating their swim bladders with "sonic muscles".

  5. Insects and other arthropods.

      Insects do not have lungs or trachea.


    • Crickets and katydids sing by rubbing their forewings together, vibrating the membranes.
    • Some grasshoppers rub a hind leg against a forewing:


    • Band-winged grasshoppers can snap their hindwings when they fly, making a crackling sound:


    • Cicadas have a pair of "tymbals" in their abdomen. Muscles in the tymbal pull stiff membranes in a rapid cycle, creating a buzzing song:

      This male True Katydid sings "katy-did katy-did".

      The number of syllables he pronounces is affected by temperature:

    • In warmer temperatures, he sings faster and seems to say "Katy did it, Katy didnt":
    • In colder temperatures, he slows down and just says "Katy", "Kate", or "Did":

      Females produce a less strident song:

      Snowy Tree Cricket males chirp to court females.

      The chirping rate also varies with temperature; here he is singing at 30C (86F).

      The chirps slow down at 12C (54F):

      You can find the temperature in F by counting the number of chirps in 13 seconds and adding 40.

      Periodical Cicadas spend 17 years underground as larvae, feeding on tree sap.

      The population in northern Illinois (Brood XIII) emerged in June 2007.

      This species of lacewing, Chrysoperla johnsoni, sings a complex courtship song.

      Its "standard repeating unit" consists of 5 notes.

      This species of lacewing, Chrysoperla plorabunda, sings a simpler courtship song.

      Its "standard repeating unit" consists of 1 note repeated continuously.

      Snapping Shrimp use their large claw to produce a sound loud enough to stun prey.

      Cavitation occurs when liquid moving at high speed causes tiny air bubbles in the fluid to form.

      The bubbles then collapse, producing a shock wave and the snapping sound. Pistol Shrimp

      Image: Michel Versluis

    Animal Audio Jeopardy
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