Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resonating feathers produce courtship song in rare bird

Date:
December 1, 2009
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Four years ago, a researcher reported a bizarre example of sexual selection in a rare South American bird: The male attracts the female by rubbing specialized wing feathers -- more than 100 cycles per second -- to create a high hum, similar to a sustained violin note. While the researchers speculated how the sound was created, they have since proven that the club-winged manakin's feathers resonate at a particular frequency to create the tone.

A male club-winged manakin.
Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University

Four years ago, a Cornell researcher reported a bizarre example of sexual selection in a rare South American bird: The male attracts the female by rubbing specialized wing feathers -- more than 100 cycles per second -- to create a high hum, similar to a sustained violin note.

Related Articles


While the researchers speculated how the sound was created, they have since proven that the club-winged manakin's feathers resonate at a particular frequency to create the tone.

The adaptation is a striking example of a species modifying an essential body part for the purpose of attracting a mate.

"We normally don't think of sexual selection transforming areas of critical importance," said Kim Bostwick, curator of Cornell Museum of Vertebrates and lead author of a study published in the Nov. 11 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

The sparrow-sized, club-winged manakin has nine inner-wing feathers held adjacent by a ligament on each wing, but uniquely, the two innermost feathers, called the "sixth and seventh secondaries," have enlarged and hollow shafts. The researchers found that when the enlarged sixth and seventh feathers are excited at their resonant frequency -- an object's natural frequency of vibration -- all nine hollow feathers resonate as a unit at 1500 Hertz to create the violinlike note close to an F-sharp. The wing also produces a second harmonic tone at a similar or greater volume as the fundamental tone.

"These feathers have turned into a kind of tuning fork," Bostwick said.

The researchers discovered that all feathers naturally resonate at a frequency of 1500 Hz, but this weak resonance cannot be heard without such special adaptations as the enlarged hollow feathers of the male club-winged manakin, which create the audible tone that attracts females. "The beginnings of that resonance already existed in the feathers," Bostwick said.

Co-authors include Damian Elias, Ph.D. '06, now an assistant professor at the University of California-Berkeley, and Andrew Mason, a former Cornell postdoctoral researcher, now an assistant professor at University of Toronto.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. The original article was written by Krishna Ramanujan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Resonating feathers produce courtship song in rare bird." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113123846.htm>.
Cornell University. (2009, December 1). Resonating feathers produce courtship song in rare bird. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113123846.htm
Cornell University. "Resonating feathers produce courtship song in rare bird." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113123846.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
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