Why Do Birds Sound Like Car Alarms? - The Worlds Rarest Birds (2023)

Birds are known for their beautiful songs and calls, but have you ever heard a bird that sounds like a car alarm? It’s a common phenomenon that can be heard in many parts of the world, and it’s a topic that has puzzled ornithologists for years.

Some of the most notorious birds known for mimicking car alarms are song thrushes and northern mockingbirds. But why do they do it? In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior and the science behind it.

We will also discuss the different types of birds that mimic car alarms and the impact it has on their survival and reproduction. So, let’s dive in and find out why birds sound like car alarms.

Why Do Birds Sound Like Car Alarms? - The Worlds Rarest Birds (1)

The Science of Bird Imitation

The ability for birds to imitate sounds is a fascinating aspect of their behavior. Birds have a highly developed syrinx, or voice box, which allows them to produce a wide variety of sounds. They also have the ability to learn and memorize new sounds, which is how they are able to imitate car alarms and other human-made sounds.

Attract a Mate

There are several theories as to why birds imitate sounds one theory is that it is used to attract a mate. Birds that can mimic a variety of sounds may be more attractive to potential partners, as it shows they have a diverse range of vocalizations.

Way to Establish Territory

Another theory is that birds use imitation as a way to establish territory. By mimicking the sounds of other birds or animals, a bird can make it seem like there are more individuals in the area, which can deter potential competitors.

Mimic Other Bird Songs

In addition to car alarms, birds also commonly mimic other bird songs, as well as human-made sounds such as sirens, phones, and even dog barks. This ability to imitate a wide range of sounds is not limited to just a few bird species but is found in many different types of birds including crows, parrots, and mynahs.

Imitating Sounds

It is also worth mentioning that some birds are better at imitating sounds than others. For example, the northern mockingbird is known for its ability to mimic a wide range of sounds, including car alarms, while the song thrush is known for its ability to imitate other bird songs.

Examples of Birds That Sound Like Car Alarms

Many people who live in urban areas have reported hearing birds that sound like car alarms, and these birds are often the culprits. Personal anecdotes related to these birds include some of the bird watchers and naturalists who have observed these birds in the wild and have been fascinated by their mimicry abilities.

Superb Lyrebird

The superb lyrebird is native to Australia and is known for its extraordinary ability to mimic a wide range of sounds. In addition to car alarms, the lyrebird can mimic the sounds of other birds, as well as human-made sounds such as chainsaws, cameras, and even cell phones.

Male Lyrebird

The male lyrebird is particularly known for its impressive mimicry, which it uses to attract females during the breeding season. The northern mockingbird is a common bird found throughout North America.

Northern Mockingbird

Like the lyrebird, the northern mockingbird is known for its ability to mimic a wide range of sounds, including car alarms. In addition to car alarms, the northern mockingbird can mimic the songs of other birds, as well as other human-made sounds such as sirens and alarm clocks.

The mockingbird uses its mimicry to establish its territory and to attract a mate. Both of these birds are known for their ability to mimic car alarms in urban areas. They are able to pick up the sounds of car alarms and incorporate them into their own songs, which can be heard in residential neighborhoods.

The Impact of Human-made Sounds on Birds

The impact of human-made sounds on birds is a complex and multifaceted issue. One of the main concerns is that birds may become desensitized to natural sounds, making it more difficult for them to communicate with each other and navigate their environment.

Additionally, birds that live in urban environments are more likely to mimic human-made sounds, like car alarms, as they are more frequently exposed to them. Studies have shown that birds living in urban areas have different vocalizations than those in rural areas.

For example, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah found that urban European starlings had a different pitch and frequency in their songs than those living in rural areas. This could be because the birds were trying to make their songs heard over the noise of the city.

Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield found that the songs of the great tit, a common European bird, were changing in response to traffic noise. The birds were singing at a higher frequency in order to be heard over the background noise.

This could have negative consequences for the birds as it can make it harder for them to attract a mate and establish territory. The broader implications of human-made sounds on birds and their habitats in urban environments are significant.

As human populations continue to grow and urbanize, the noise levels in these areas will only continue to increase. This can have detrimental effects on the biodiversity of birds and other wildlife, making it more difficult for them to survive and thrive.

It also highlights the importance of preserving natural habitats and reducing noise pollution in order to ensure the survival of bird populations.

Common Birds Known for Mimicking Car Alarms

Bird SpeciesHabitatBehavior
Northern MockingbirdWoodlands, suburban areasKnown for its mimicry of a wide range of sounds, including car alarms
Song ThrushWoodlands, gardensKnown for its mimicry of car alarms and other human-made sounds
Superb LyrebirdForests of eastern AustraliaKnown for its remarkable mimicry of car alarms, as well as other sounds such as camera shutters and chainsaws
European StarlingUrban areas, farmsKnown for its mimicry of various sounds, including car alarms
Common Hill MynaForested areas of Southeast AsiaKnown for its mimicry of car alarms and other human-made sounds


Can all birds imitate sounds?

While many birds are known for their ability to imitate sounds, not all birds have this ability. Some species, such as the superb lyrebird and the northern mockingbird, are particularly talented at mimicking a wide range of sounds, while others may only be able to imitate a few specific sounds.

Do birds only mimic sounds they hear in the wild?

Birds are able to imitate sounds they hear in both the wild and in human-made environments. For example, some birds living in urban areas have been known to mimic car alarms, sirens, and other human-made sounds.

Are birds that mimic car alarms considered a nuisance?

While the ability of birds to imitate car alarms may be fascinating to some, for others it can be considered a nuisance, especially if the bird is loudly mimicking the sound in the early hours of the morning. However, it is important to remember that the birds are simply behaving in a way that is natural for them and that human-made sounds in their environment are influencing their behavior.

Can I do anything to prevent birds from mimicking car alarms near my home?

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to prevent birds from mimicking the sounds they hear in their environment. However, you can try to reduce the amount of human-made noise in your area, such as turning off car alarms when they are not in use and supporting conservation efforts to protect bird habitats.

Are there any negative impacts on birds that mimic human-made sounds?

Studies have shown that human-made sounds can have negative impacts on birds, such as disrupting breeding and feeding behaviors and causing stress. Additionally, birds that mimic human-made sounds may be at a disadvantage in the wild, as they may not be able to communicate effectively with other birds of their own species.

Editor’s Note

The bird in the video is likely a northern mockingbird, a common bird in the United States known for its ability to mimic a wide range of sounds, including car alarms and other human-made noises.

Some birds mimic the songs of other birds and other sounds from their environment as a way to increase their repertoire of songs and attract females. Other species, such as the starling and the superb lyrebird, also have similar abilities to mimic sounds.

The sounds of car alarms and other human-made noises are often imitated by these birds in urban environments.


Birds have the unique ability to mimic sounds from their environment, including car alarms. The reasons for this behavior range from attracting mates to establishing territory. The superb lyrebird and northern mockingbird are examples of birds known for sounding like car alarms, and their habitats and behaviors are unique to their species.

Additionally, human-made sounds can have a negative impact on birds and their behavior, and it’s important to be aware of this as we continue to urbanize and industrialize the world.

We encourage readers to learn more about the fascinating world of bird imitation and its impact on birds and their habitats and to get involved in conservation efforts to protect these amazing creatures.

Some suggestions for further reading include books on ornithology and bird conservation, as well as local birdwatching and conservation groups that one can join.


Why do birds sound like car alarms? ›

What is this? Song thrushes are known for repetitive songs and phrases that can sound like alarms or other human-made sounds. These birds are also known to mimic the sounds of other birds around them, incorporating new things into their songs. Sometimes, they also mimic human noises.

Is there a bird that sounds like a car alarm? ›

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbirds exuberantly bounce back and forth between the song of a cardinal, a woodpecker, a car alarm, and what seems like everything in between. New research published in Behavioral Processes adds frogs and toads to the list of sounds mimicked by Northern Mockingbirds.

What bird call sounds like an alarm? ›

Found in the mountain forests of the north-eastern Amazon—”in the Guianas, with small numbers in Venezuela and the Brazilian state of Pará“—the birds' call sounds metallic, like an electronic warning system alarm. Hear the white bellbird, the loudest bird ever recorded, in the above video by Anselmo d'Affonseca.

Why do birds make alarm calls? ›

Alarm calls

In the vocabulary of some birds, there is one alarm call specifically to warn of aerial predators, and another alarm call used in other circumstances, for example, when a ground enemy appears.

Why do birds false alarm flight? ›

Birds raise false alarm to scare off predators | Science | AAAS.

Why do birds keep diving in front of my car? ›

“Birds are out there to survive and so a lot of the reason why they're swooping in front of us because they're on a mission.” It might seem like that bird is swooping in front of your car, but in reality that bird is just going about its business and you happen to be driving by at that moment.

What bird sounds like a car trying to start? ›

If you have been awakened in the middle of the night lately by an unusual bird cry that sounds a bit like trying to start a car with a flat battery, it could be that of the migratory Channel-billed Cuckoo.

What is a bird alarm? ›

Alarm calls can be wide-bandwidth, loud and short to attract birds from farther away to come mob a predator. Other calls can be shorter bandwidth, high-pitched “seets”that don't travel as far as individual sounds, but spread quickly from bird to bird to warn of a predator on the move.

What bird sounds like a ray gun? ›

The male lyrebird's call plays a crucial role in his courtship behaviour, and while he'll call throughout the year, when the breeding season hits - between June and August every year - that's when he'll really ramp things up.

What black bird sounds like an alarm? ›

The typical call of a Red-winged Blackbird is a distinctive, matter-of-fact check that's fairly easy to recognize. Males and females make these calls all year round, in flight and while feeding, when confronting rivals and to raise an alarm. They also give a more intense alarm call, a fast, scolding chak chak chak.

Which bird sounds like Hello? ›

The corvid family, which includes crows, ravens and jays, among others, are a highly intelligent group of birds. The sounds they mimic can range from words they hear frequently like "hello," to sounds they find interesting, like a washing machine or a cat's meow.

What bird beeps at night? ›

“A Saw-whet is the only one that sounds like that,” Darmstadt said. “They are fairly common, but quite secretive and often overlooked. They live in deep woods, often swampy, and lots of conifers.” It is likely that my Saw-whet is a male, advertising his territory, looking for a mate.

Do birds warn you of danger? ›

They might be warning others of the threat, but they might also be telling the predator, "I've seen you." Yorzinski used a ring of directional microphones around a birdcage to record the songs of dark-eyed juncos, yellow-rumped warblers, house finches and other birds as they were shown a stuffed owl.

Why are birds calling at midnight? ›

Usually, the male birds sing songs or chirp at night time to seek a mating partner. It is bird culture that the male tends to sing at night the most melodious and complex songs to attract mates, i.e., female partner.

Is bird calling bad? ›

The recorded song may be heard by the bird as a challenge from a competitor, resulting in unnecessary stress on the bird. Or the song could distract the bird from normal activities, such as caring for its young.

Can birds fall asleep while flying? ›

Some birds also fly while sleeping with one half of their brain. Frigate birds fly for months over the ocean and can engage in both regular sleep and use half their brain at a time to sleep during soaring or gliding flight.

Can a bird mess up a plane? ›

Most accidents occur when a bird (or birds) collides with the windscreen or is sucked into the engine of jet aircraft. These cause annual damages that have been estimated at $400 million within the United States alone and up to $1.2 billion to commercial aircraft worldwide.

How do pilots avoid birds? ›

Airplane colors and jet engine spinner markings help to repel birds. Birds seek to avoid airplanes because of aerodynamic and engine noise.

Why do birds throw things on the floor? ›

It is a natural behavior for birds to take just a few bites of something and then drop the rest. Actually, in the wild, the flinging of food fulfills an important role in the ecosystem. In the process of "wasting" food they are distributing seeds and providing food to ground dwelling species.

Why do birds fly into your window over and over? ›

The first step is to understand why birds fly into windows: It's usually because when they're looking at the window, they're seeing the reflection of sky or trees instead of a pane of glass. They think they're following a clear flight path.

Why is a bird diving at me? ›

In most cases, if a bird is divebombing it means that it has a nest with eggs or newly hatched young nearby. It is rare for a bird to actually attack a human or animal. In most cases, it is simply trying to scare people away from its nest. Birds almost never actually make contact with the target they are divebombing.

What bird sounds like something is falling? ›

The willow warbler has a melancholy, descending song of falling notes. Think of water cascading over a tall waterfall, or perhaps a penny dropping between the pins of a penny arcade machine.

What bird sounds like a door opening? ›

Common Grackles make a variety of squeaks, whistles, and croaks. The typical song, made by both males and females, is a guttural readle-eak accompanied by high-pitched, clear whistles. It lasts just less than a second and is often described as sounding like a rusty gate.

What bird sounds like a truck backing up? ›

The Northern Saw-whet Owl may sound like co-co-co-co-co, which some people think sounds like a truck backing up.

Why is a bird chirping at me? ›

Birds chirp to indicate danger, warning and communication. Both male and female birds can chirp. The singing of birds is quite sweet and agreeable, often with a melodious tone.

Do birds have warning calls? ›

Birds give alarm calls when they see a predator, and in many cases they even have calls specific to an avian predator like a hawk or owl.

How do you turn off a bird alarm? ›

Once paired, the alarm can be activated and deactivated in the app simply by sliding the clearly-marked toggle left or right. That's it!

What bird sounds like a police whistle? ›

Cedar Waxwings have two common calls: a high-pitched, trilled bzeee and a sighing whistle, about a half-second long, often rising in pitch at the beginning. Cedar Waxwings call often, especially in flight.

What bird sounds like a helicopter? ›

Male Blackpoll Warblers sing a short, high-pitched song made up of a series of staccato notes. The 3-second song gently fades in, increases in volume, and then fades back out. They sound almost like a tiny helicopter approaching and slowly passing, tsit tsit TSIT TSIT tsit tsit.

Is there a bird that sounds like a phone? ›

The European Starling — the continent's most abundant non-native bird — is an accomplished mimic. Starlings are especially astute imitators of bird sounds that have a whistled feel — like the sound of a Killdeer or quail. They can duplicate a car alarm or phone ring, too.

What bird sounds like a dog at night? ›

The Barking Owl is a medium-sized, robust owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts. It is named for its remarkably dog-like barking call. It is also known as the Winking Owl.

What bird makes a loud beeping sound? ›

It's the American woodcock, a member of the shorebird family. Cousin to sandpipers and yellowlegs but with many amazing twists to its behavior and life history.

What bird sounds most like a human? ›

Parrots are especially adept at mimicking sounds and human language. Unlike songbirds, which produce sounds by vibrating membranes in two different syrinxes, parrots have only one syrinx, located at the bottom of the windpipe. This is somewhat similar to humans, who also have only one sound-producing organ, the larynx.

What is the prettiest bird sound? ›

Summary Of The 10 Birds That Sing The Most Beautiful Bird Songs In The World
RankBird Name
2Hermit Thrush
4Song Thrush
6 more rows
Apr 18, 2023

What bird sounds like it's laughing at you? ›

If you've heard the sound of a bird that sounds like laughing you've probably already heard the call of the green woodpecker. The green woodpecker's call is one of the most readily identifiable sounds in nature so it isn't surprising that many local names for the green woodpecker are onomatopoeic.

What kind of bird wakes you up? ›

Larger birds such as thrushes and doves are among the earliest singers because they are more active earlier in the day, while smaller species often join an hour or two later. Through the course of a morning, the composition of singers can change several times.

What bird chirps 3 times in a row? ›

5. Northern Mockingbird: The song is a long series of phrases, with each phrase usually repeated three times or more; the songs can go on for 20 seconds or more. Phrases may be imitations of other birds, other natural sounds, or manmade sounds, such as car alarms.

What bird sounds like a monkey at night? ›

The increasingly common owl has more than a dozen calls, including one that sounds like a monkey.

Do birds remember abuse? ›

We also know that parrots that have been abused suffer from PTSD-like symptoms, and respond negatively to whatever situations or objects remind them of the abusive instances. Like humans, these birds can be de-sensitized with appropriate training and care over time.

Can birds sense a tornado coming? ›

Sensing the storm

Birds are lucky in that they can detect minute pressure shifts before unusual weather arrives. However, Kenn Kaufman, Audubon field editor and author, believes that our feathered friends are worse at predicting tornadoes than we are because the twisters move so fast and are so localized.

Do birds know a storm is coming? ›

Some birds appear to possess a storm-warning system that, in some ways, may be way ahead of the best systems we have in place. This ability was discovered a few years ago by biologists studying golden-winged warblers in the Cumberland Mountains of east Tennessee.

Why are birds chirping at 12 am? ›

Many birds start getting chatty at night during months of migration, simply because their internal clocks are telling them it's “time to go, go, go!” So while it may be unsettling, it's important not to freak out and assume there is some paranormal behavior afoot.

Why do birds suddenly stop chirping? ›

Most adults stop singing as they are no longer defending their territories or in search of a mate. Instead, they are busy rearing their young and teaching them how to find their own food before they fly south for the winter.

Why do birds start singing at 3am? ›

For many years, the prevailing theory was that those early hours are typically the coolest and driest hours of the day which allowed bird songs to travel the farthest, giving their voices better range. It's sending a message to other males that they should stay away…and the farther away the better.

Is kissing your bird okay? ›

"The main way it transfers is from infected birds, and you can get it from breathing in or ingesting infected material," Dr Muir said. "That's why you've got to be careful handling birds. "Certainly kissing them is not a good idea, and you've got to be a little bit careful having them around your mouth."

What bird talks back to you? ›

Hill mynahs (tropical members of the starling family of birds) are renowned for their ability to mimic the human voice. It has been claimed that the hill mynah is the best talking bird and the best mimic in the world.

What happens if you yell at your bird? ›

Bird screams can worsen over time because many people naturally react to their bird screaming by yelling back. This yelling back only reinforces the screaming—when you scream at your bird to be quiet or stop, they think you are both yelling and they are getting attention so they do it more.

Why do mockingbirds mimic car alarms? ›

Northern Mockingbirds can learn as many as 200 songs, and often mimic sounds in their environment including other birds, car alarms, and creaky gates. One theory is that if a female prefers males who sing more songs, a male can top his rivals by quickly adding to his repertoire some of the sounds around him.

What bird sounds like low battery fire alarm? ›

Maybe Song Sparrow? Their song is varied, but they usually have a few leading notes which sort of sound like the little beeps your smoke detector gives when its battery is low and then a longer final note that is sort of a trill.

What bird sounds like a bomb? ›

Greater Sooty Owls make a number of different vocalisations. The typical call is a short, descending screech which can sound like a whistle if heard from a distance. This call is often called the 'falling-bomb whistle'.

What bird sounds like it's crying at night? ›

If you hear a startling scream in the swamp at night, chances are it's a limpkin. At least, we hope it's a limpkin. These uncommon wetland birds are found in Florida and parts of Central and South America.

What bird sounds like a human whistle at night? ›

The Carolina Wren is a tiny bird with a loud, distinctive song that includes several trills and warbles. But if you listen closely, you'll also hear some notes that sound suspiciously like they were produced by a human whistle.

What bird sounds like an old car horn? ›

A sure sign that winter is on the way is the arrival of whooper swans, which migrate to the UK from Iceland. The patterns on their yellow and black bills are unique to each individual bird and can be used to tell them apart. They also have a honking voice which can sound like an old-fashioned car horn!

What bird sounds like a toy? ›

Brown-headed Nuthatches don't sing complicated songs, but they are plenty vocal. They make tiny squeaks that sound like a toy rubber ducky being squeezed.

What bird sounds like a police siren? ›

Like many owls, Barred Owls initiate their vocal courtship in winter. And they're among the most vocal. These owls have more than a dozen calls, ranging from a "siren call" to a "wail" to a wonderfully entertaining "monkey call." Barred Owls are among the largest owls in North America.

Do mockingbirds remember faces? ›

Recognition skills across species are not just a human forte. Mockingbirds and coots are excellent examples of how birds remember faces and also eggs.

Why do mockingbirds go after cats? ›

Mockingbirds are bold in defense of their nests, attacking cats and even humans that venture too close.

What bird sounds like a cell phone ringing? ›

The European Starling — the continent's most abundant non-native bird — is an accomplished mimic. Starlings are especially astute imitators of bird sounds that have a whistled feel — like the sound of a Killdeer or quail. They can duplicate a car alarm or phone ring, too.

What bird makes a scary sound at night? ›

Owls, of course, are the usual suspects when we think of the eerie bird sounds. And while it's true that their nighttime shrieks have inspired terror since antiquity, they're hardly the only birds capable of providing chills.

What bird sounds like an alarm in the morning? ›

Fire alarms, car alarms, and the worst of them – the alarm clock! Mother Nature also has an alarm clock, but thankfully, it is not as rude as that last one. The blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is native to North America and is one noisy, bold and aggressive bird.

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