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 December 18, 2014 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 December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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