Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

What is Communication?

Animals are communicating all the time. When you hear a dog barking, it’s communicating, when you hear birds singing, they’re communicating. When you talk to your families or your classmates, you’re communicating too!

But what do we really mean when we talk about ‘communication’?

Communication is the transfer of information from one animal (a sender) to another (a receiver), and the feedback or response that follows.

Diagram showing flow of communication between animals
Communication Diagram

In the cases throughout this resource, the animal doing the communicating is the sender and any animal getting the information is a receiver.

There are lots of different ways that animals can communicate with one another and lots of different reasons for this communication. We call these different ways of communicating, ‘modes’.

The main modes of communication are:

  • Auditory (things that make noises)
  • Visual (how things look)
  • Physical (the way animals move in certain ways)
  • Pheromonal/Scent (using chemicals and smells)

Communication can happen at many different levels too, such as between two individuals of the same or different species; within family or social groups; between predator and prey; or from one individual to a larger group.