What Bird Makes A Clicking Sound? Identifying Birds By Call

If you’ve heard an unusual clicking or rattling call in your backyard or while out birdwatching, you may wonder ‘what bird makes that sound?’. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Some birds like finches, woodpeckers, and kingfishers make distinctive clicking or rattling calls.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll cover the species of birds that make clicking sounds and how to identify them by call, appearance, behavior, habitat, and region. You’ll learn how to distinguish the dry, rattling call of the belted kingfisher from the chattering of finches.

We’ll also discuss why certain birds make these unique clicking vocalizations and how they benefit the bird.

What Is a Clicking Bird Call?

A clicking bird call refers to a specific type of sound produced by certain bird species. This sound is characterized by short, rapid, and repetitive clicks, similar to the sound of two hard objects striking together.

While not all birds make clicking sounds, there are several species that are known for this unique vocalization.

Definition of Clicking Sounds

Clicking sounds produced by birds can vary in their tone, rhythm, and intensity. Some birds create soft, subtle clicks, while others produce loud and distinct ones that can be easily heard from a distance. The clicks can be regular or irregular, depending on the species.

One example of a bird with a clicking call is the Northern Flicker, a type of woodpecker. The male flicker produces a rapid series of high-pitched clicks during its courtship displays. These clicks are believed to be a form of communication between the male and female flickers.

Another bird species known for its clicking call is the Black-billed Magpie. These birds produce a variety of vocalizations, including a distinct clicking sound. The clicking call of magpies is often used for social communication within their groups or to establish territory boundaries.

Reasons Birds Click

Birds use clicking sounds for various reasons, including communication, territorial defense, and courtship. Clicking calls can serve as a way to attract mates, establish dominance, or warn of potential threats.

These sounds can also be used to maintain contact with other members of their species or to signal their presence in a particular area.

Some researchers believe that birds use clicking sounds as a means of echo-location, similar to how bats navigate in the dark. By emitting rapid clicks and listening for the echoes, birds can gather information about their surroundings, such as the location of objects or potential prey.

It’s important to note that not all birds that make clicking sounds do so for the same reasons. Each species may have its own unique purpose for producing these vocalizations, and further research is needed to fully understand the significance of clicking calls in the avian world.

If you’re interested in learning more about bird calls and their meanings, websites like All About Birds and Audubon provide comprehensive resources and recordings of various bird vocalizations.


Appearance and Behavior

Woodpeckers are medium-sized birds measuring between 9 to 19 inches in length. They have stout, chisel-like bills that are perfect for drilling and hammering on trees. Their tongue can extend 2 to 3 times the length of their bill allowing them to extract insects from deep inside tree cavities.

Woodpeckers have strong feet with sharp claws that enable them to cling vertically to tree trunks. Most woodpecker species have striking black and white plumage and red markings on their heads.

Woodpeckers use their beaks to hammer and chisel away at dead trees and fallen logs in search of the insects that live inside. The hammering and pecking causes the characteristic knocking and tapping sound that woodpeckers are known for.

They communicate with one another using an array of calls and drumming. Drumming is performed as a means of territorial display and to attract a mate.


Woodpeckers inhabit forests, woodlots, groves, orchards, and suburban parks where there are plenty of trees available for nesting and foraging. They prefer older trees which tend to have higher insect populations.

Though primarily a tree-dwelling species, they may occasionally visit bird feeders if suet is offered.

Regional Species

There are over 200 species of woodpeckers found globally. Some common species in North America include:

  • Downy Woodpecker – small black and white woodpecker with a red patch found widely across North America.
  • Hairy Woodpecker – medium-sized black and white woodpecker with a red patch on head found across forests of North America.
  • Red-headed Woodpecker – striking fully red head and black and white body found in open woodlands of central and eastern North America.
  • Pileated Woodpecker – largest woodpecker in North America at 16-19 inches with black body, white stripes, and red crest found in mature forests across much of the continent.

Audio Examples of Calls

Here are examples of some common woodpecker vocalizations:


Appearance and Behavior

Kingfishers are known for their stunning appearance and unique behaviors. These birds are characterized by their vibrant plumage, often featuring shades of blue, green, and orange. Their long, sharp beaks are perfectly designed for catching fish, their primary source of food.

Kingfishers have a distinctive shape, with a stocky body and short legs. They are also known for their ability to dive into water from perches, using their wings to propel themselves underwater in pursuit of prey.


Kingfishers are found in various habitats around the world, including both freshwater and saltwater environments. They are commonly seen near rivers, lakes, and ponds, where they can easily find fish to hunt.

However, they can adapt to different habitats and can also be found in coastal areas, mangroves, and even urban parks. Kingfishers build their nests in burrows along riverbanks or in tree holes, creating a safe and secure space for their eggs and young.

Regional Species

There are over 90 species of kingfishers worldwide, with each region having its own unique species. Some of the most well-known species include the Belted Kingfisher (North America), the Common Kingfisher (Europe), and the Laughing Kookaburra (Australia).

Each species has its own distinct appearance and call, making it easier to identify them by their vocalizations.

Audio Examples of Calls

If you’re curious about what a kingfisher’s call sounds like, there are numerous resources available online where you can listen to audio recordings. Websites like Xeno-canto provide a vast collection of bird calls, including those of various kingfisher species.

By listening to these recordings, you can familiarize yourself with the different types of calls made by kingfishers, helping you identify them in the wild.

Finches and Sparrows

Finches and sparrows are two common types of birds that can be identified by their distinctive calls, including clicking sounds. Here is some information about these birds:

Appearance and Behavior

Finches and sparrows are small to medium-sized birds that are often found in urban and suburban areas. They have similar body shapes, with short, stout beaks and compact bodies. However, there are some key differences in their appearance.

Finches often have colorful plumage, with bright yellows, reds, and blues, while sparrows are typically brown or gray in color.

In terms of behavior, finches are known for their acrobatic flight patterns and their ability to hang upside down on branches. Sparrows, on the other hand, are more ground-dwelling birds that hop and walk along the ground. Both species are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats.


Finches and sparrows can be found in a wide range of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. They are often found near sources of food, such as bird feeders or flowering plants. These birds are highly adaptable and can thrive in both natural and human-altered environments.

Regional Species

There are many different species of finches and sparrows found around the world. Some common species include the House Finch, the American Goldfinch, the Song Sparrow, and the House Sparrow. Each species has its own unique call, including various clicking sounds.

Audio Examples of Calls

If you’re curious about the clicking sounds made by finches and sparrows, you can listen to audio recordings of their calls. Websites like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds provide a wide range of bird sounds that you can explore.

These recordings can help you identify different species based on their calls, including those that make clicking sounds.

Remember, learning to identify birds by their calls can be a fun and rewarding hobby. So next time you hear a clicking sound in your backyard, take a moment to listen closely and see if you can spot the finch or sparrow making that unique sound!


If you hear an unusual clicking or rattling call, being able to identify the bird species making it provides useful information about your local habitat and wildlife. With this guide to common clicking birds like woodpeckers, kingfishers, and finches, you’ll be able to pinpoint the unique vocalizations and expand your birdwatching skills.

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