And Sulaiman (Solomon) inherited (the knowledge of ) Dawud (David). He said: “O mankind! We have been taught the language of birds, and on us have been bestowed all things. This, verily, is an evident grace (from Allah).” (Qur’an, 27:16)
IN the above verse, it is said that the Prophet Solomon was taught the speech of birds in addition to the endowments that God’s grace had adorned him with. The Qur’an refers to the communication between birds and to the fact that the twittering and singing of birds has particular meanings. Birds, like human beings, do communicate. This undeniable communication is certainly not as developed as it is in man.
Research conducted by zoologists has established that sounds emitted by animals are meaningful and not haphazard. Birds, ants, dolphins, etc., have systems of communication.
Meanings in sounds emitted by birds
As the Qur’an speaks of the language of birds, let us take a look at research conducted on birds. Brazilian and American ornithologists have studied the hummingbird (one of the tiniest birds in the world) and published their findings in the British journal Nature. The author of the article, Maria Luisa Da Silva, says that the vocabulary of the hummingbird is not innate but develops afterward. In other words, the hummingbird learns to speak as human beings do.
Studies on crows have demonstrated that they emit a variety of sounds, namely, to call the colony of crows to come together, to express alarm, and to communicate a state of distress. Ornithologists, who have recorded these sounds using a sonograph, are still engaged in deciphering the meanings behind them. Bernd Heinrich, among these scientists who speak of the difficulty in decoding the sonograms, associates this research work with the work of the inhabitants of other planets visiting our earth and trying to decipher eating, playing, making love and activities like catching fish using a sonograph. What we are trying to do is to imagine ourselves in their place. Heinrich speaks of the difficulty encountered in deciphering the language of animals in general, as different species have different ways of communication, each calling for a different approach.
There is a body language, expressed by the changes in your body position and movements, that show what you are feeling or thinking. Nodding means “yes,” hailing is a sign of calling to someone in order to greet him or try to attract his attention. Although the sounds emitted by birds are a means of communication, they also have, in general, a body language. Their body language is easier to decipher. For instance, a bird that emits a sound by touching its beak with his tongue means “I am a friend, I have no intention to harm you.” Theresa Jordan gives a whole list of signs, demonstrating thereby that even the body language necessitates a glossary.
The physiology of birds is as interesting as their language, the long distances they cover without swerving from their destination are something to marvel at. Ornithologists studying birds will see God’s perfect artistry revealed in these creatures too.
There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered. (Qur’an, 6:38)