Musical Bird Songs

Composers throughout history have used their music to tell a story or to imitate sounds that they hear around them. Some of the most common sounds composers have imitated in their music are bird calls. Music from hundreds of years ago all the way to music written today features bird calls played by instruments all around the orchestra.

Orchestra Music Bird Calls

Let’s listen to some bird calls in orchestra music!

Beethoven Symphony no. 6

Check out this small section from Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. You’ll hear three bird calls over and over: a nightingale (played by the flute), a quail (by the oboe), and a cuckoo (by the clarinet). Watch the video to see and hear when each bird enters!

“The Goldfinch” Flute Concerto by Antonin Vivaldi

Listen to the flute imitate Goldfinch bird sounds in this concerto. You’ll hear the bird sounds throughout, but listen specifically at the 1:30 mark to hear a little bird call cadenza!

La Merle Noir (The Blackbird) by Olivier Messiaen

First, listen to real blackbird sounds.

Now listen to this piece for flute and piano that imitates blackbird sounds! Do you think they sound similar?

Bird Song Listen and Sing

This activity is a great way to engage children in active listening and help them learn about the world around them

  1. During a walk around your neighborhood, while relaxing at a park, or from an open window, listen closely for the sounds of birds.
  2. When you hear a bird, imitate the sound using your voice.
  3. Discuss with your child:
    • Do you think that bird was small or large?
    • Did that bird sound nearby or far away?
    • When you imagine that bird, what color do you think it might be?

Take your bird listening even further by:

  • Counting the number of bird calls you hear
  • Drawing a picture of a bird while you listen
  • Seeing if you can spot the bird you hear

Bring the Birds To You!

Not many bird sounds outside your home? Not a problem! Try making a simple bird feeder and hanging it outside a window. In no time, you’ll be able to hear the happy bird sounds from inside your home. Check out this list of recycled-material bird feeders to inspire you and your little ones.

Orchestra Birdsong Playlist

Listen to this playlist of some of our favorite orchestra music that feature bird songs (both made by instruments as well as by real birds!).

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