How Song Birds Learn to Sing

In a fascinating Ted Ed lesson written by biologist Patha Mitra and animated by Lisa LaBracio, narrator Addison Anderson explains the fascinating process by which song birds learn to sing, using the zebra finch as an example. While much of it is learned behavior, studies are proving that the song of the zebra finch is imprinted into the bird’s DNA through genomes, evolving and changing over time.

Something about the learning process must be hardwired, too, drawing the birds towards the same song patterns again and again. This means that basic information about the zebra finch song must be stored somewhere in its genome, imprinted there by millions of years of evolution. …we can connect genomes to behavior through brain circuitry. The connection is noisy and quite complex. It doesn’t simply map single genes to single behaviors, but it exists.