Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.
Bill morphology shifts along with fundamental frequency in urban birds: we talk a lot in ORCAA about the way animals change their vocalization in response to outside pressure, but there are physiological constraints on the changes that can be made (for example, there’s no way I can sing bass, although I can get to tenor if I warm up). Birds in urban, disturbed areas had longer, narrower bills, which might help them get food at feeders, but actually makes it harder for them to vocalize at the higher frequencies that are more advantageous in noisy areas.
40-million-year-old protowhale was sensitive to low frequency sound: I’m a little bit of a paleo-nerd, so this was pretty cool to see. They looked at CT scans of the inner ear structures of this fossil, Zygorhiza kochii, and compared it to current mysticetes, and found that they were similar, indicating Zygorhiza was probably also sensitive to low-frequency sound the way our current baleen whales are. This implies that the order developed with a sensitivity to low-frequency and toothed whales’ high-frequency sensitivity came later.
Baird’s beaked whales are affected by sonar: beaked whales are some of the most mysterious ocean-dwellers, and we know little about their life history, behavior, or response to noise. Using acoustic tags, these researchers found that a Baird’s beaked whale displayed unusual diving behavior after being exposed to sonar.
Fun link of the week: I’m taking next week off because it’s the day before Thanksgiving here, and I’ll be traveling and then spending four straight days eating my family’s amazing cooking. So this week I give you a video about turkey vocalizations! Bonus: if you have energy, a paper cup, some string, and a paperclip after gorging yourselves on turkey, you can make a simple turkey-ish call.