By Lyse McGilvery
It is fascinating to watch and listen to animals, especially birds and dogs. Do dogs and birds have an actual language where they communicate specific situations, or are they just barking and tweeting for the fun of it? All indications are that they do have a specific language, depending on tone, loudness, and inherent sense of urgency.
For example, when dogs bark less loudly and less shrilly, it’s as if they’re communicating an actual interference or possible danger to their neighborhood—i.e., an unfamiliar vehicle or dog or pedestrian walking within their comfort/protection zone. Sometimes, dogs, who are all inherently wolf, howl at the full moon, and the subsequent neighborhood dogs will follow/causes other neighboring members of the wolf pack to join in.
Many dog owners believe that dogs communicate with each other to know when the females are in heat and looking for a mate, or when there’s a natural disaster like an earthquake about to happen.
Forest rangers have documented certain animals responding to an upcoming earthquake when they digging deeper burrows or chipmunks and squirrels start hoarding extra acorns as if it were winter. Birds also appear to respond to imminent natural disasters. They not only communicate if danger is near, but according to my acquaintance Dallas/Tom, who was born and still lives in the SLV, they signal a sense of mourning. He witnessed the cry of a raven change significantly when a fellow raven died at the hands of an intruder.
Dogs clearly have better hearing than humans do, and I’ve found it astounding how my landlord’s dogs can recognize without a fault all the dozen cars that come onto our dirt road, plus all the cars owned by my landlord’s son. The dogs never err, signaling us vigorously if a stranger comes up the road, or behaving especially excitedly when my boyfriend’s van comes up, since he’s the one who always takes them for a walk at Highlands or Felton Covered Bridge Parks.
Birds also apparently communicate with a language understood by other birds, though it’s not sure if that language is universal or understood only by their own species. A possible example of this is that certain birds, like parrots, can replicate human voices and words. Another is the fact that during spring, the mating season for birds, male birds will elicit a certain song that acts like to a telephone number, and if the female is interested, she’ll respond with the same notes and go to his branch. Another male bird will sing different notes and hope to get lucky with a different female who responds to him and subsequently comes to his branch.
I only wish I could understand their “speech” as they do.