We’ve known for a long time that humans are capable of assigning meaning to sounds based on context. In other words, we often figure out the meaning of a sound (take “bear” and “bare,” for example) based on where the sound falls in a string of other sounds.
It’s a fabulous skill that requires rather sophisticated cognitive abilities. And now researchers have discovered that humans are not alone in this ability. In fact, the ability to interpret sounds based on context has been observed in swamp sparrows, a grey-breasted bird found in North American wetlands.