Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birds' Harmonious Duets Can Be 'Aggressive Audio Warfare,' Study Finds

Date:
September 9, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers have new insight into the motivating factors that drive breeding pairs of some tropical bird species to sing duets. Those duets can be so closely matched that human listeners often mistake them for solos.

Researchers reporting in the September 4th Current Biology, have new insight into the motivating factors that drive breeding pairs of some tropical bird species to sing duets. Those duets can be so closely matched that human listeners often mistake them for solos.

Related Articles


They now report evidence that male and female rufous-and-white wren partners sing as a way of keeping track of one another when they are apart. But the duets, as pleasant as they may sound, also have a more sinister purpose. During confrontations with rivals, the wrens essentially duel one another with their duets.

The discovery was made possible by sophisticated sound recording technology developed by the University of Windsor and Cornell University team. That system, including eight microphones recording to a single laptop computer, allowed them to triangulate the duetting birds' positions in the dense tropical forests of Costa Rica where they live.

"Your first impression after you hear the duet of a pair of tropical birds is one of great harmony and cooperation," said Daniel Mennill of the University of Windsor. "Their duets require coordination and synchronization, and my multi-microphone recordings confirm that birds do coordinate their activities by performing duets. But there is a darker side to duetting; tropical birds also perform duets in very aggressive contexts, and respond with special aggression to rival individuals of the same sex. Their voices are beautiful harmonies, but they're also aggressive audio warfare."

The researchers found that male and female wrens approach each other following duets and use them to play a version of the children's game Marco Polo. "One bird sings, listens for the song of its partner, and moves towards their partner after hearing a response," Mennill said.

In another set of experiments, Mennill used two loudspeakers to simulate the voices of a pair of duetting wrens and found that birds fight duets with more duets. As soon as the birds heard the duets of a rival pair, their singing rate "shot through the roof," he said, evidence that the melodies play an important role in aggressive territory defense.

Mennill said he expects that, like the rufous-and-white wrens, the songs of many other duetting species also serve different purposes depending on the context in which they are performed.

The researchers include Daniel J. Mennill, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Sandra L. Vehrencamp, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Birds' Harmonious Duets Can Be 'Aggressive Audio Warfare,' Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904144821.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, September 9). Birds' Harmonious Duets Can Be 'Aggressive Audio Warfare,' Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904144821.htm
Cell Press. "Birds' Harmonious Duets Can Be 'Aggressive Audio Warfare,' Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904144821.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins