Learning a language

Will a zebra finch learn his language if he is allowed to grow up with his father or mother for 50 days after birth?


A zebra finch male will be able to learn to sing his song perfectly within 50 days. To achieve this he will have to grow up with his father as his mother does not sing and he, therefore, will not be able to learn singing from her. When the males are 50 days old they will be actively singing and their song will closely resemble that of their father. There is a certain sensitive period when it comes to learning to sing, just as with children learning to speak. The older we get, the harder it will be to learn a new language. When the zebra finch is exposed to his father’s song during the sensitive period of 50 days, he will be able to produce a near perfect copy of the song. While this learning process resembles that of children, zebra finches do not know language as we do; in some respects, they may seem like people but they remain birds.