Songbirds are highly social and they learn their vocalizations, making them excellent for studying sociality, learning, and communication. Birds learn their vocalizations during a critical period of brain growth early in life, through a process similar to speech learning in humans. Songbirds have been promoted as a model system for studying the mechanisms underlying human speech and hence disorders of speech and speech processing.
Though birdsong, which is a mating signal, is most commonly studied, our work also examines signal processing in female birds and bird calls. Bird calls are produced by birds of all ages and sex classes throughout the year and have parallels with cetacean (whales and dolphins), elephant and primate communication systems.