Songbirds are a productive model organism to study the neural basis of auditory-guided vocal motor learning. Like human babies, juvenile songbirds learn many of their vocalizations by imitating an adult conspecific. This process is a product of genetic predispositions and the individual's life experience and has been investigated mainly by neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioral methods. Results have revealed general principles governing vertebrate motor behavior, sensitive periods, sexual dimorphism, social behavior regulation and adult neurogenesis. More recently, the emerging field of birdsong neurogenetics has advanced the way we think about genetic contributions to communication, mechanistically and conceptually.