Mimicking Bird Songs

December 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Birding Tips

Each bird species has its own unique sound and song, and for centuries human hunters have been devising whistles or perfecting their own whistling techniques to mimic the calls of birds. But until recently, this art was not fool proof. Now, using a rubber tube, physicists have been able to create device that imitates bird calls and, when played back, is almost the exact reproduction of the original bird call. Their simple device has proven to be a breakthrough in the mimicking of bird calls and songs, and is still being researched as they wish to improve on their device.

Different species of birds have calls that are exclusive to that species and which young birds learn from their parents. By studying the physics of bird calls and the vocal tract of birds, physicists from Harvard University, located in Massachusetts, have been able to create a simple controller to mimic certain bird calls. The rubber tube that is used is created to resemble the vocal tract of the specific bird. Then, with the assistance of a linear motor, pressure is put on the tube to resemble the contracting of the muscles, and together with the airflow produced, the researchers have been able to mimic the songs of birds. The device can be used to mimic a variety of bird calls and the patterns created by the device are as harmonious as those of real birds. Many scientists have suggested that young birds learning bird calls has a lot to do with neurological shifts, as the bird ages, but graduate student Aryesh Mukherjee from the Mahadevan Laboratory believes that the secrets to bird calls lay in the vocal tracts of each bird.

Other avenues of studying bird calls and how to mimic them are also being pursued, and Shreyas Mandre is in charge of creating digital bird calls. Working within the laboratory, this researcher is making use of mathematical models that are also very close to the real bird calls. But it is believed that with more research and time, the art or mimicking bird calls can be perfected.


February 9, 2009 by  
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The main bird related activity that people engage in is that of bird watching, an activity that continues to increase in popularity with people all over the world showing renewed appreciation for the wonders of nature. Bird watching is a relatively inexpensive hobby and there are always opportunities to spot new bird species. One way to watch birds is to attract them to your garden. You can attract birds by providing food, water and shelter for them.

Use your bird guide to identify birds by looking at their general outline/shape, coloration, eye color, leg and bill color, behavior and considering the habitat that they are in. Listening to bird calls and sounds will assist you in identifying them. The more bird watching you do, the easier it will become to identify the bird species in your area. So don’t delay – get out there and spot some birds!

Bird Calls and Sounds

February 9, 2009 by  
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It truly is amazing to wake up in the morning to the sound of birds twittering and chirping in the fresh dawn air. Bird calls are a language of their own and are carefully uttered to convey important messages. Bird sounds are a great form of communication as they can be heard even when the “speaker” is not seen or is a far way off.

Bird sounds are separated into songs and calls. Bird calls are simple notes produced by males and females throughout the year. The sound of bird song is more elaborate and musical, telling other birds: “This is my territory”. Different bird calls are sounded for different purposes. Contact calls keep birds in a flock aware of each others whereabouts. However in large colonies it is important to also have breeding calls which are recognized by mates, parents and young. Alarm calls attract other birds to assist in attacking predators and stopping their silent approach.

Bird song is especially important at the beginning of the breeding season, and is also prominent before migrating or when stopping along the way. Certain species defend their territory all year round and thus sing continually, and in some cases both male and female will sing for this purpose. Bird song is most effective in the morning as sound travels farther in the still air. Birds will often perch on high, exposed positions to make their voices heard, as this reduces interference from surrounding bush and allows the sound to travel more effectively.

A fascinating bird sound is that of the lyretailed honeyguide of Central Africa. This bird will fly above the tree tops whilst singing; it then spirals down from these great heights. Whilst spiraling its tail vibrates and the wind blowing through its spiky feathers sounds like a loud drum. This sound can be heard over a great distance.

Many people listen to recordings of bird calls and use these in identifying birds as each bird has unique calls and sounds. So next time you listen to birds calling outside your window, consider what message they are trying to convey.

The Marvelous Mimicry of the Lyrebird

September 10, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

There are two species of the ground-dwelling Australian Lyrebird: the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) and the Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti). The Superb Lyrebird is the larger of the two species and is found in the wet forest areas of New South Wales and Victoria, as well as in Tasmania where is was introduced by man in the 19th century. The Albert’s Lyrebird is found exclusively in a small area of rainforest in Southern Queensland. Albert’s Lyrebird was named in honor of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.

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Gilbert White – A Highly Esteemed Ornithologist

April 30, 2007 by  
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Gilbert White is considered by many to be the father of ecology and field ornithology. Although his works were penned in the 1700’s, they remain vital reading for all ecologists. Indeed, Gilbert White has left an indelible mark on the world of natural sciences.

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