How birds live together
Understanding each other helps birds to find food and avoid danger.
Safety in numbers
Many birds live closely together. Some, such as starlings, travel in flocks, others, such as gannets, nest in dense colonies. This is an adaptation for survival. Flocks offer safety in numbers, since each individual is safer from predators. Birds that roost together help to preen each other. Some, such as long-tailed tits, also huddle together for warmth.
Know your neighbour
Many birds send signals with their markings. The bright yellow bars on the wings of goldfinches flash when they take off. This warns other birds of danger and also helps the flock to stick together in flight.
Know your partner
Thousands of gannets share one crowded breeding colony. Each pair has its own tiny square of territory, which it defends from all others. When a gannet returns from a fishing trip, it recognises its partner’s call and flies straight back. But if it lands in the wrong place, it gets a barrage of pecks from its unhappy neighbours.
Know your place
Watch birds at a bird table to see how different species behave. Some, such as starlings, barge in noisily. Others, such as coal tits, wait their turn patiently. Some species always give way to others: for instance, house sparrows give way to greenfinches, and dunnocks give way to robins.
Each species feeds in its own time. This system is called a pecking order. It prevents fights, which are both dangerous and a waste of precious feeding time.
In this section
Building a home
Unlike most reptiles and mammals, many birds build their own homes - their nests. Each species nests in a different way, according to where it lives.
How do birds attract their mates?
A beautiful song is not the only way to impress. Birds have plenty of other tricks for attracting a mate. Many show off gorgeous plumage or perform dramatic dances.
Out loud - make some noise
If flight is birds' greatest adaptation, then the noises they can make must be a close runner-up. No other animals can produce so many sounds, and for so many different purposes.