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 December 22, 2014 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 December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. 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