Laboratory of Comparative Psycoacoustics Budgerigars say
How we study hearing in birds
Budgerigars hear
Budgerigars say
Noise effects generally
Environmental noise
Zebra finch as model
Hair cell regeneration
Belgian Waterslager canaries


Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), more commonly known as parakeets, are small Australian parrots that show remarkable vocal plasticity throughout life. Budgerigars have an enormously complex vocal repertoire. Male budgerigars produce a long, rambling song called warble and both sexes readily produce short, highly stereotyped, frequency modulated vocalizations referred to as contact calls. These vocalizations are interesting because they develop through learning and because these birds, like humans, retain the ability to learn new vocalizations in adulthood. The overall spectrum of these vocalizations, as well as some of the fine grain spectral and temporal changes, are well-matched to the capabilities of the budgerigar auditory system. Current research is exploring the limit of vocal learning in this species and the special relationship between vocal complexity and hearing capabilities.

Below are sound spectrograms (plots of time against frequency) of the long rambling warble of a male budgerigar, as well as a representative contact call from a domesticated budgerigar, and one from an Australian wild caught budgerigar. The warble of male budgerigars is used to coordinate reproduction and is effective in stimulating female budgerigars to ovulate and in stimulating other male budgerigars to warble. Budgerigar contact calls are learned, and they may have one to several contact calls in their repertoire at any one time. Typically, though, budgerigars produce a single dominant contact call type 98% of the time in communicating with other budgerigars.

Click on the spectrograms below to hear these calls. 


Domestic budgerigar contact call 
Australian budgerigar contact call


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This page was last updated 04/15/10