Bird Vocalizations - University of Arizona

Bird Vocalizations - University of Arizona

http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/votacio.phtml?i dVideo=725&tipus=1 Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) hooting boreal owl http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdcommunica tion.html top of page or about 20 % down Bird Vocalizations 1 JodyLee Estrada Duek, Ph.D. With assistance from Dr. Gary Ritchison http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/parentalcare.html Birds produce a variety of sounds to communicate with flock members, mates (or potential mates),

neighbors, & family members. These sounds vary from short, simple call notes (and short, simple songs like those of Henslow's Sparrows) . . . . . . to surprisingly long, complex songs (e.g., the Superb Lyrebird with David Attenborough). Sometimes birds generate sounds by using substrates (like woodpeckers) or special feathers (like American Woodcock) or special wings (like manakins). Red-capped Manakin (Pipra mentalis) using its wings to generate sound. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Bsu4z9Y3k Male Anna's Hummingbirds use their tail feathers to generate sou nd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_2JFK-tnnE Most sounds, however, are produced by the avian vocal organ, the syrinx. Common loon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw1It3AlXmQ http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdcommunication.html top

(with an occasional 'buzzy' song of a Grasshopper Sparrow in the background) Syrinx The syrinx is located at the point where the trachea branches into the two primary bronchi. According to one model of syrinx function, sound is generated when: contraction of muscles (thoracic & abdominal) force air from air sacs through the bronchi & syrinx the air molecules vibrate as they pass through the narrow passageways between the external labia & the internal tympaniform membranes (or, as in the diagram above, tympanic membrane. With two separate passageways (and membranes), some birds are able to generate two different sounds at the same time: hear a 'self-duet' by a Clay-colored Robin http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/resources/naturesongs/ccro12.wav/view.html (Source: Doug Von Gausig's webpage at http://www.naturesongs.com/costa.html)

The sound of the song Characteristics of the sound (e.g., frequency) are influenced by vibrations of the internal tympaniform membrane (ITM). Superfast syringeal muscles -- Elemans et al. (2004) have found that Ring Doves (Streptopelia risoria) use "superfast" muscles to make their distinctive call. The dove's familiar cooing sound includes a trill, which is caused by an airflow that makes membranes in the syrinx vibrate. The quality of sound can be further influenced by tracheal length, by constricting the larynx, by muscles in the throat, or by the structure and/ or movements of the bill (e.g., here are some complex ' Bird Songs in Slow Motion'). Although the above model has been generally accepted, Goller and Larsen (1997a, 1997b, 1999) provide evidence that other structures (not the ITM) are the source of sound in both songbirds (oscines) and non-songbirds because birds can still vocalize when the medium (or internal) tympaniform membra

ne is experimentally kept from vibrating. Birdsong sounds sweeter because throats filter out messy overtones songbirds adjust the size and shape of their vocal tract to 'fit' the changing frequency Control of the song Central motor control : Different circuits (or impulse pathways) in the brain control song production (posterior descending pathway) and song learning (anterior forebrain pathway). Song production is controlled via a pathway beginning in the brain & travelling to the syrinx Testosterone (and melatonin) appear to play a role in song production: Autoradiographic studies have shown that the neurons of the songcontrolling nuclei incorporate radioactive testosterone, whereas other regions of the brain do not (Arnold et al. 1976).

Male Zebra Finches - correlation between the amount of song & the concentration of serum testosterone (Prve 1978) Seasonal changes in testosterone levels correlated with seasonal singing patterns When testosterone levels are low, decrease in song & a decrease in size of male-specific brain nuclei (Nottebohm 1981). In adult Chaffinches, castration eliminates song, but injection of testosterone induces such birds to sing even in November, when they are normally silent (Thorpe 1958). Females in some species can be induced to sing by injecting them with testosterone (Nottebohm 1980). Spectrograms of hoots from three different male Scops owls showing the variation in frequency.

Male quality and owl hoots 1 The evolution of communication through intrasexual selection is expected to lead signalers to transmit honest information on their fighting ability. Hardouin et al. (2007) studied information encoded in acoustic structure of territorial calls of a nocturnal raptor. During territorial contests, male Scops Owls (Otus scops) give hoots composed of a downward frequency shift followed by a stable plateau. Hardouin et al. (2007) found that the frequency of the hoot was negatively correlated with the body weight of the vocalizer. They shifted the frequency of natural hoots to create resynthesized calls corresponding to individuals of varying body weight and used these stimuli in playback experiments simulating an intrusion into the territory of established breeders. Territory owners responded less intensely when they heard hoots simulating heavier intruders, and males with heavier apparent weight

tended to give hoots with a lower frequency in response to playbacks simulating heavier intruders. Male quality and owl hoots 2 Although the current lack of understanding of the mechanisms of voice production in owls limits our ability to discuss the bases of this relationship, one possibility is that it may result from physiological constraints that operate during sound production. For example, lower-pitch hoots may be more costly to produce and/or

reflect superior muscular or respiratory abilities. The relationship between pitch and body weight may reflect the fact that heavier, better-condition males are also characterized by higher testosterone levels, which in turn affect the frequency of their vocalizations. Indeed, male condition and testosterone levels have been shown to positively correlate, and higher testosterone levels are typically associated with more intense sexual displays. Moreover, experimental studies have demonstrated that injections of testosterone lower the frequency of male calls in birds, e.g., Gray Partridges (Perdrix perdrix) and Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Melatonin Shapes Brain Structure In Songbirds Springtime's lengthening days spark the growth of gonads and a rush of sex hormones that drive songbirds to melodic song.

Bentley et al. (1999) also identified melatonin as a critical ingredient that regulates singing and fine-tunes the effects of testosterone on the brain Sexual differentiation of the avian brain In songbirds, males and females may have distinctly different brain structures, specifically in those areas involved in the production of song. In many songbirds, males sing while females do not (or sing very little). The ability to sing is controlled by six different clusters of neurons (nuclei) in the avian brain (see diagrams below). Neurons connect each of these regions to one another.

In male songbirds, these nuclei can be several times larger than the corresponding cluster of neurons in females, and in some species (e.g., Zebra Finches), females may lack one of these regions (area X) entirely (Arnold 1980, Konishi and Akutagawa 1985). Classification of Bird Sounds 1 1. Songs primarily under the influence of sex hormones generally important in reproduction (e.g., defending territories & attracting mates) 2. Calls generally concerned with coordination of the behavior of a pair, family group, or flock (e.g., several vocalizations of Carolina Chickadees)

not primarily sexual, but important in 'maintenance' activities, such as foraging, flocking, & responding to threats of predation usually are acoustically simple (e.g., contact notes of Northern Cardinals) may serve a variety of functions: location/contact/individual recognition [Montezuma Oropendola contact calls] Slaty-tailed Trogon calling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgBfb9eDx-g (Mayflower Bocawina National Park - Belize.. (more)) Classification of Bird Sounds 2 3. nocturnal flight calls. These calls help birds form and maintain inflight associations, and also provide locational information that helps flying birds avoid collisions. Nocturnal flight call of a Black-and-White Warbler RealAudio | AIFF | WAV (at 1/6 speed: RealAudio | AIFF | WAV) Video of Black-and-white Warbler at Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize

... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksvo29-Sw08 Classification of Bird Sounds 3 4. distress (Listen to a Downy Woodpecker distress call) Sonograms of distress calls from six species. (a)Sootycapped Bush-Tanager, (b) Black-capped Flycatcher, (c) Green Violet-ear (pictured below), (d) Gray-breasted WoodWren, (e) Streak-breasted Treehunter, and

(f) Yellowish Flycatcher. Each sonogram represents 1 sec of distress calling. Distress Calls of Birds in a Neotropical Cloud Forest 1 Neudorf and Sealy 2002 -- Distress calls are loud, harsh calls given by some species of birds when they are captured by a predator or handled by humans. recorded the frequency of distress calls in 40 species of birds captured in mist nets during the dry season in a Costa Rica cloud forest. They tested the following hypotheses proposed to explain the function of distress calls: (1) calling for help from kin or reciprocal altruists; (2) warning kin;

(3) eliciting mobbing behavior; (4) startling the predator; (5) distracting the predator through attraction of additional predators. Distress Calls of Birds in a Neotropical Cloud Forest 2 results did not support calling-for-help, warning kin, or mobbing hypotheses. genera that regularly occurred with kin or in flocks were not more likely to call than non-flocking genera. no relationship between calling frequency and struggling behavior as predicted by the predator startle hypothesis. Larger birds tended to call more than smaller birds, providing some support for both the predator distraction and predator startle hypotheses. Calls of higher amplitude may be more effective in startling the predator. Distress calls of larger birds may also travel greater distances than those of

smaller birds, supporting the predator manipulation / distraction hypothesis. The adaptive significance of distress calls remains unclear as past studies have generated conflicting results. While more playback experiments are necessary to determine if calls indeed attract other individuals or predators, these results suggest that distress calls do not function to attract helpers or mobbers but are more likely directed toward predators. Classification of Bird Sounds 4 5. 6. 7. 8. feeding aggression

courtship copulation or post-copulatory (e.g., see 'Calls' section of this account of Broad-winged Hawks and this description of copulation in Burrowing Owls) 9. begging (e.g., young Downy Woodpeckers while being fed) Kookaburra nest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRuhApDLzrE 10.alarm (aerial predator vs. ground predator) [for an example of crow alarm calls check http://www.crows.net/analysis.html; also listen to the alarm call of a Masked Antpitta, Hylopezus auricularis] Alarm calls Domestic Chicken - aerial predator alarm call Domestic Chicken - ground predator alarm call

Alarm calls White-breasted wood wren http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyDZRvn_U0A Chickadee language 1 Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapilla) have a complex language for warning flock-mates about predators. It was already known that chickadees utter a high-pitched "seet" when a predator was overhead, and used their "chick-a-dee" call to, among other things, alert flock-mates to mob a threatening bird that was perched. However, Templeton et al. (2005) put flocks of six chickadees in an enclosure and recorded their responses. In the presence of a harmless quail, chickadees gave no alarm. But when a tethered raptor (hawk or owl) entered the cage, the alarms began. Alarms were more frequent when Saw-whet and Pygmy owls were present.

But the alarms also had a different sound. In the presence of small predators, the chickadees tacked an average of four "dees" to their call: "chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee." When the larger, but less dangerous, Great Horned Owl was present, they used two dees: "chick-a-dee-dee." Smaller predators are more dangerous because of their greater agility Chickadee language 2 To prove that the "language" was conveying information, Templeton et al. (2005) played back the recordings to chickadees. Recordings made in response to more dangerous raptors elicited more mobbing behavior, confirming that the chickadees understood the meaning of the calls. While this may be the most sophisticated bird "vocabulary" found to date, Templeton suspects others are out there. This is the most detailed communication we have found,

but it is also the finest scale that anyone has looked. All these signaling systems are a lot more complicated than we really expect, until we spend a lot of time and energy looking at them Predator wingspan compared to the number of "dee" tones on the end of the chickadees calls. The smaller (and more agile) the predator, the more "dees" get added, suggesting that chickadees recognize the danger of smaller predators. Hear a chickadee response to a Pygmy Owl - click here. Hear a chickadee response to a Great Horned Owl - click here. Black-capped chickadee video Nuthatches eavesdrop on chickadees Many animals recognize the alarm calls produced by other species, but the amount of information they glean from these eavesdropped

signals is unknown. Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) have a sophisticated alarm call system in which they encode complex information about the size and risk of potential predators in variations of a single type of mobbing alarm call. Templeton and Greene (2007) showed experimentally that Red-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta canadensis) respond appropriately to variation in heterospecific "chick-a-dee" alarm calls (i.e., stronger mobbing behavior to playback of small-predator alarm calls), indicating that they gain important information about potential predators in their environment. These results demonstrate a previously unsuspected level of discrimination in intertaxon eavesdropping. Siberian Jay (Photo by John van der Woude)

Calls 'describe' predator's behavior Predation may cause natural selection, driving evolution of antipredator calls. calls can communicate predator category and/or predator distance risk posed by predators depends also on predator behavior, and ability of prey to communicate predator behavior to conspecifics would be a selective advantage reducing predation risk. Griesser (2008) tested with Siberian Jays (Perisoreus infaustus), a group-living bird

Predation by hawks, and owls, is substantial and sole cause of mortality in adults Field data and predator-exposure experiments revealed jays use antipredator calls depending on predator behavior. playback experiment demonstrated that prey-to-prey calls are specific to hawk behavior (perch, search, or attack) and elicit distinct, situation-specific responses. first study to demonstrate that prey signals convey information about predator behavior to conspecifics. Given that antipredator calls by jays serve to protect kin group members, lowering mortality, kin-selected benefits could be an important factor for the evolution of predator-behavior-specific antipredator calls in such systems. Photo by D. DeMello, Wildlife Conservation Society Low frequency calls of cassowaries 1 http://www.valleyanatomical.com/

some birds can detect wavelengths in the infrasound range, there has been litle evidence that birds produce very low frequencies. Mack and Jones (2003) made 9 recordings of a captive Dwarf Cassowary (Casuarius benneti) and one recording of a wild Southern Cassowary (C. casuarius) in Papua New Guinea. Both species produced sounds near the floor of the human hearing range in their pulsed booming notes: down to 32 Hz for C. casuarius and 23 Hz in C. benneti. Low frequency calls of cassowaries 2 Natural selection should favor evolution of vocalizations that reach targets with minimal degradation, and low frequencies propagate over long distances with minimal attenuation by vegetation. New Guinea forests often have a fairly thick understory of wet leafy vegetation that could quickly attenuate higher frequencies. very low frequency calls of cassowaries probably ideal for communication

among widely dispersed, solitary cassowaries in dense rainforest. How cassowaries produce such low vocalizations is currently unknown. All three cassowary species have keratinous casques rising from the upper mandible over the top of the skull up to 17 cm in height. http://www.valleyanatomical.com/ Hypotheses concerning the function of the casque include: (1) a secondary sexual character, (2) a weapon in dominance disputes, (3) a tool for scraping the leaf-litter, or (4) a crash helmet for birds as they bash through the undergrowth. The later three seem unlikely based on field observations. Future research should include the possibility that casque might play some role in sound reception or acoustic communication. Energetic cost of singing Sexually selected displays, such as male passerine bird song, predicted to be

costly. measurements calculating rate of oxygen consumption during singing using respirometry have shown that bird song has a low energetic cost. Because birds are reluctant to sing when enclosed in a respirometry chamber, energetic cost of singing could differ under more normal circumstances. Ward and Slater (2005) used heat transfer modeling, based on thermal images, to estimate the energetic cost of singing by Canaries (Serinus canaria) not enclosed in respirometry chambers. Metabolic rate calculated from heat transfer modeling was 14% greater than during standing, suggesting song production is metabolically cheap for passerines and the metabolic cost small enough that it is unlikely to represent important fitness cost However, cost will increase as the temperature decreases. The functions of bird song 1

may vary among species; some known & hypothesized functions include: 1. Identification Songs have characteristics that permit other birds to identify the species, sex (if both males and females sing), and individual identity of a singer. Characteristics important in permitting specific, sexual, & individual recognition vary among species but may include (Becker 1982): song duration interval between song elements (also called notes or syllables, e.g., see sonagrams of Mangrove Warbler songs) frequency syntax - the order of elements within a song (e.g., Tropical Mockingbird) structure of elements, e.g., duration and frequency 2. Mate attraction 3. Territory establishment and defense

The functions of bird song 2 4. Motivation and Fitness - Birds may provide information to conspecifics by variation in (Becker 1982): singing rates may increase during aggressive encounters may be higher in higher quality males song duration - may increase or decrease (depending on the species) during conflicts song amplitude (or volume) may decrease during aggressive encounters song frequency - may increase during conflict situations (e.g., Indigo Buntings; Thompson 1972) song complexity - songs may consist of more or fewer elements during conflict

situations (e.g., male Blue Grosbeak utter songs with more syllables during aggressive encounters with other males) 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Distraction of potential predators (e.g., Common Yellowthroat flight song) Coordination of activities Stimulate females Attract females for extra-pair copulations Mate guarding Song complexity and the avian immune system 1 There are three hypotheses to explain how evolution of parasite

virulence could be linked to evolution of secondary sexual traits, such as bird song. 1. female preference for healthy males in heavily parasitized species may result in extravagant trait expression. 2. a reverse causal mechanism may act, if sexual selection affects coevolutionary dynamics of host-parasite interactions by selecting for increased virulence. 3. immuno- suppressive effects of ornamentation by testosterone or limited resources may lead to increased susceptibility to parasites in species with elaborate songs. Assuming a coevolutionary relationship between parasite virulence and host investment in immune defense, Garamszegi et al. (2003) used measures of immune function and song complexity to test passerine birds. Song complexity and the avian immune system 2 Under the first two hypotheses, they predicted avian song

complexity to be positively related to immune defense among species, whereas this relationship was expected to be negative if immuno-suppression was at work. They found that adult T-cell mediated immune response and the relative size of the bursa of Fabricius were both positively correlated with song complexity, even when potentially confounding variables were held constant. These results are consistent with the hypotheses that predict a positive relationship between song complexity and immune function, thus indicating a role for parasites in sexual selection. Regression of short-term song complexity (number of unique syllables within songs/song length) on T-cell mediated immune response, after removing allometric effects by using residuals after controlling for body mass. Datapoints are

phylogenetically independent linear contrasts (N = 38). The line and equation are from linear regression forced through the origin. Cities change the songs

of birds rise of urban noise levels are a threat to living conditions in and around cities. Urban environments typically homogenize animal communities, results in same few bird species everywhere. Insight into the behavioral strategies of urban survivors may explain sensitivity of other species to urban selection pressures. Slabbekoorn and den Boer-Visser (2006) showed songs that are important to mate attraction and territory defense have significantly diverged in Great Tits (Parus major), a successful urban species. Urban songs shorter and sung faster than in forests, and often atypical song types. consistently higher minimum frequencies in ten out of ten city-forest comparisons from London to Prague and from Amsterdam to Paris. Anthropogenic noise is likely a dominant factor driving these changes.

These data provide evidence supporting acoustic-adaptation hypothesis reveal a behavioral plasticity that may be key to urban success; and lack of which may explain detrimental effects on bird communities that live in noisy urbanized areas or along highways. In some species, females also sing. This is particularly true in the tropics (see 'duetting'). Singing by females may be important in: 1. territory defense (particularly in keeping other females out of a territory) 2. mate guarding 3. pair-bonding / attraction 4. reproductive synchronization When do female birds sing? Hypotheses from experimental studies (Langmore 1998).

(a) The song of a female Superb Fairy-wren. Females use songs to defend territories against both males and females. (b) The song of a female Alpine Accentor. Female Alpine Accentors sing to attract males, and complexity increases with age. This song was a two-year-old female (Langmore 1998). Singing by female Northern Cardinals Source: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu Yamaguchi (2001) found female Northern Cardinals learn to sing three times faster than males - the most dramatic example of learning disparities between male & female animals found to date. She collected nestling cardinals & raised them in

sound chambers with microphones and speakers that play back the songs of adult cardinals. It takes about a year for a cardinal to learn to sing, and young songbirds learn by imitating adults. During the early sensitive phase, young dont sing, but listen to singing adults to memorize their songs. Then the practicing begins. initial attempts are pretty miserable they practice until it matches the memory that was formed earlier during the sensitive phase Singing by female Northern Cardinals 2

Yamaguchi (1998) also analyzed songs and found females sing with more overtones, a slightly nasal sound. Young males also go through a nasal, warbly phase as their testosterone levels rise, but its as though females continue to sing with an adolescent males voice. Yamaguchi (2001) discovered female cardinals memorize adult songs three times faster than males. While both sexes ultimately learned same number of song types, females sensitive phase was only a third as long as the males. The different learning rates may reflect an evolutionary adaptation. Like other songbirds, juvenile cardinals disperse from their parents territory about 45 days after hatching to establish their own turf before their first breeding season.

Singing by female Northern Cardinals 3 Away from their nest, young cardinals are suddenly immersed in new song dialects of other adult cardinals. It appears that females lose the ability to learn new dialects when they disperse, while males are able to learn them and fit in with their new neighbors. Perhaps males retain the ability to learn songs longer than females so that they

can have a better chance of establishing territory in a new area For males, song-matching and fitting into the crowd in a new place are really important, while theyre not for females Its not clear why female cardinals have a shorter window of vocal learning, but we dont really know why females sing at all, or how they use their songs One hypothesis is that females sing as a species identification tool, a greeting to male cardinals that says, Im an eligible mate; come court me. Others have proposed female cardinals sing to shoo away brightly colored mates from the nest, warning the males not to attract attention to the vulnerable chicks. female cardinals also use songs in aggressive behavior Yamaguchi says Ive seen females battling each other in the field, and theyre singing the whole time as they bang into each other. Male northern cardinal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrI8t6nhlgg Tucson, Arizona

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