I am wondering whether there are birds that do not vocalize at all.

I know about the distinctions between songs and calls in passeriformes. I know that there are species that vocalize very little, like the Ruff (Philomachus pugnax). I was curious to know whether there is a species in which vocalizations, acoustic communication, do not play any role at all.


1 Answer 1


There are birds with non-vocal sound only. However, there might not be any bird without producing any sound. Thus, all birds appear to have some way of acoustic communication.

A better known example of a voiceless or near voiceless bird is stork per multiple credible sources.

Storks are voiceless or nearly so, for lack of a fully developed syrinx (vocal organ), but some of them clatter their bills loudly when excited. https://www.britannica.com/animal/stork

Wikipedia claims that storks have a syrinx and rarely produce some sound with it and adds credible citations.

Although it is sometimes reported that storks lack syrinxes and are mute,[7] they do have syrinxes,[8] and are capable of making some sounds, although they do not do so often.[4][9] The syrinxes of storks are "variably degenerate" however,[8] and the syringeal membranes of some species are found between tracheal rings or cartilage, an unusual arrangement shared with the ovenbirds.[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stork#Morphology

Even, just clattering is an acoustic communication between storks:

Identification of the sex of birds is important for captive breeding of endangered species. In the oriental white stork (Ciconia boyciana), an endangered species, both sexes produce an acoustic signal called "clatter" by rattling their mandibles together to generate sounds. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15333993/

The only birds without syrinx might be New World vultures but they do produce sound also.

No New World vulture possesses a syrinx,[35] the vocal organ of birds. Therefore, the voice is limited to infrequent grunts and hisses.[36] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_vulture#Description

Here is a relevant quote from ornitology.com about Non-vocal Sounds:

Kiwis stamp their feed when annoyed. Boat-billed Herons, Storks, and Albatrosses rattle or clap their bills. Woodpeckers drum. The Ruffed Grouse drums with its wings. The nighthawk and hummingbirds often make sounds with their wings or tails. A number of birds make whistling sounds as they fly through the air- may or may not serve a purpose.


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