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Sound From Bird Wings Act As a Predator Alarm

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-noise-means-something-terrible-for-you dept.

Science 100

An anonymous reader writes "Biologists have discovered that a species of Australian pigeon has a secret way of alerting fellow birds to predators — a 'whistle' emitted by flapping wings when the bird takes off in alarm. The crested pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) is well known for the abrupt metallic-sounding whistle that it makes on takeoff. Many birds have the ability to make vocal cries to alert other members of their flock, but this is the first study to show that flight noise can also serve as an alarm call."

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100 comments

Gentoo?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29295971)

I use Gentoo; how does this affect me?

Re:Gentoo?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296223)

You're gay.

is that so (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29295981)

sparor whawk got you in the first post

Cause vs response? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29295989)

Don't confuse cause and response.

Re:Cause vs response? (1)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297363)

You mean that the sound made by a pigeon's wings is affected by fleeing pigeons in the vicinity?

Re:Cause vs response? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297835)

No. What I mean to say is that when I flap my left arm, the cause is Taco Bell. Your response should be to flee at least 3 meter from my rear.

Shame they're so paranoid (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29295995)

I walk near birds minding my own business, they fly off and make racket doing so.. only once or twice have I yelled "WHAT!?" at them.. but people look at me funny.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296641)

Actually, that reminds me, I grew up in France and I never could approach a bird within 20 feet without them flying away, until I visited England and the same kind of birds would approach as close as two feet from you as long as you didn't move too much. I never thought much of it until someone else made the same observation after visiting England.

Now I don't see how the nationality of birds could possibly influence their behaviour towards people, but has anyone else even noticed this?

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (5, Funny)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296809)

french birds run away sooner?

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299691)

They are only fleeing so that they may begin le resistance!

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29305957)

french birds run away sooner?

because they are french!

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (3, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296917)

Now I don't see how the nationality of birds could possibly influence their behaviour towards people, but has anyone else even noticed this?

It might have something to do with the fact that (lots of) French people will kill and eat anything that moves. Evolution at work.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297351)

Yeah, we assumed it might have to do with different behaviour from people, although it must be said that we're talking about very small birds, no one eats those.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299347)

although it must be said that we're talking about very small birds, no one eats those.

For reference, the Romans occasionally had hummingbirds on the menus at feasts. So people do (or did) eat very small birds.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296919)

The French eat pigeons, while the British generally don't. (Christ, the French eat almost anything ...)

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297347)

lol what?? Aren't you confusing us with the Chinese?

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297505)

Perhaps he doesn't, I don't think that Chinese eat bouillabaisse.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297531)

You mean Squab? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Funny)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297985)

Who modded you offtopic?

Squab is a pigeon dish best served cold on a plate with chicken liver, fava beans, and a tall glass of chianti. ffft! ffft! ffft!

Another dish best served cold (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298731)

Squab is a pigeon dish best served cold on a plate with chicken liver, fava beans, and a tall glass of chianti. ffft! ffft! ffft!

Is it easier to make than revenge?

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29301605)

I guess have trolls that follow me. That or someone can't figure out the new mod system.

Anyways, I had Squab the first time in much the same ways you have described. I ate it before I knew what it was and thought it was delicious. It made me a little quezy after finding out what it was but I got over that quickly. I took up dove hunting since then just because of it. I still haven't quite found a recipe that tastes as good as the first time but I'm close.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298177)

They don't eat fancy fish stews? Their loss.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Informative)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297179)

In some parts of the continent ( mostly southern Europe: Italy and Malta for sure but France too) it is common for people to shoot small birds for the sheer fun of shooting them. Anything that flies is shot and they don't care if it is edible, or rare, or a protected species. See here [rspb.org.uk] for details.

In the UK, shooting of birds is restricted to (a) Farmers shooting pest species (e.g. crows) and (b) rich people shooting specially-reared game birds (grouse, pheasant etc.) and (c) People with green wellies shooting ducks --- they are usually keen conservationists to ensure that there continue to be ducks to shoot and places to shoot them

This all makes it entirely plausible that typical garden birds in the UK see people as less of a threat than is the case on the continent. Mind you, if that sodding blackbird steals any more of my Victoria Plums I will be very tempted to blow him away.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297223)

There are paranoid pigeons in the UK too, there are also some hard bastards too.
In Glasgow, Pigeons in and around Partick station are timid, paranoid and flee at the first sight of people
a 5 minute walk away at the Botanic Gardens I've batted several pigeons out of the air for trying to nick my dinner.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311815)

Perhaps there was starvation at some point in the countries that has paranoid birds, so the trait became prevalent.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29311715)

I think Ramsey was shooting woodland pigeons on "The F-word".

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (2, Interesting)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297221)

Hmmm. Interesting question. If you are talking urban birds, are English more likely to feed/drop crumbs then the French? Or perhaps it is the opposite, maybe there is less food around in England so the birds must act bolder in order to scavenge enough resources.

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29300579)

Duuuuh! [youtube.com] It's Mary Poppins approved!

Re:Shame they're so paranoid (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29304091)

Awesome! Teach those little buggers manners.

I have to reply because I accidently modded you overrated and now I have to invalidate my mis-click.

hmmm (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296011)

lophotes looks like loopholes from far away

Really? (5, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296125)

I would have thought the 3 laser dots on your chest or the bodies hung upside down in trees would have been pretty good signs of a predator.

Re:Really? (0, Troll)

xarasaloli (1630343) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296963)

What is that? Tell me the sign of a predator, please? Forex Megadroid [dominateprofit.com]

Re:Really? (3, Interesting)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297301)

Remember when they found those skinless bodies in the tree in that movie and one of the guys said it was probably guerrillas who did it? Well, as a kid, I thought he was talking about gorillas. That is one scary-ass thing to learn about the gentle great apes in school, and then come home to see some fleshy corpses on TV that were killed by those same monsters.

Then, last week, Planet Earth was on TV, and there was a gang of chimpanzees making war on a rival gang, then cannibalizing the bodies of their enemies! I am never going into the jungle.

Re:Really? (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297337)

Here [youtube.com] is a clip from that Planet Earth episode. Sometimes those chimps are behaving just too human for me, like at the end when one of them extends his arm and waits for another chimp to hand him a piece of chimp to eat. I do that all the time!

Re:Really? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29300007)

Remember when they found those skinless bodies in the tree in that movie and one of the guys said it was probably guerrillas who did it? Well, as a kid, I thought he was talking about gorillas.

Martin Short [imdb.com] made the same mistake when Kurt Russel told him to watch out for the guerrillas.

Re:Really? (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298541)

Ha. This post rocks.

Funny that this has only *just* been researched... (4, Informative)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296145)

Twenty or twenty-five years ago I noticed that those little buggers made different noises when startled than when taking off normally. I thought that was something that everybody who knew the birds knew about. Guess I should have gone into biology, and taken a little more notice of what was quite literally in my own back yard when I was growing up.

Re:Funny that this has only *just* been researched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296695)

Yaya great news.

My father explained to me how pidgeons act. Including the flapping of their wings in alert when I was young, this is like 15 years ago.

Re:Funny that this has only *just* been researched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296913)

Mourning dove in the US do the same thing. Although I wouldn't say that they are "always" sounding alarm when emitting the whistle and taking off, they certainly "always" do emit the whistle when they are alarmed. Anyone who has hunted them and paid attention knows that.

Re:Funny that this has only *just* been researched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29307531)

A dove is a white pigeon, nimrod!

Awesome little pigeons (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296147)

I throw out my Budgie's bird seed regularly on the front lawn so we have a few of these hang out at our house quite a bit and they're beautiful little birds. The sound they make when they fly is quite distinct so you know if you've scared one off without even looking.

Re:Awesome little pigeons (1)

samson13 (1311981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297099)

We've always joked that the squeaky pigeons needed their wings oiled.

In other news (2, Funny)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296151)

Sound Act As a Predator Alarm.

News for ornithologists (and creepy old dudes with lens) - stuff that flies!

Makes perfect sense. (1)

FlickieStrife (1304115) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296177)

It's just like that teenager-deterrent noise: http://www.noloitering.ca/tone.html [noloitering.ca] which was ironically, but hilarously turned against adults: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5434687 [npr.org] But, It all has to do with frequency. For all we know, there are some animals that CAN'T hear that 'alarm' Dog whistles, people. Dog whistles.

Re:Makes perfect sense. (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296385)

It's just like that teenager-deterrent noise: http://www.noloitering.ca/tone.html [noloitering.ca] which was ironically, but hilarously turned against adults: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5434687 [npr.org]

My hearing must be better than I thought... I'm 40 and although I can't necessarily consciously pick up that I'm hearing a 17kHz tone, it sure as hell annoys me.

15625 Hz is *definitely* still within my hearing and annoyance range...

Re:Makes perfect sense. (2, Interesting)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296649)

I'm about to turn 36, I can hear the tone clearly, and hell yes it is annoying. Now I know what makes dogs tilt their heads all funny. It's surprising that I should be able to hear it at all after spending most of my youth playing very loud music and DJing (wearing headphones plugged into various mixers, usually with the level maxed to hear them over the monitors). I was almost certain I had blown my hearing, or at least caused some damage.

But, I guess my father was right after all. It's not that my hearing is bad, it's just selective.

Re:Makes perfect sense. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296387)

While it's amusing that someone found that teenagers have a larger range of frequencies that they hear and set it up as a ringtone for sms, wouldn't it just be easier to keep your phone in your pocket and on vibrate?

Re:Makes perfect sense. (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297413)

The sound of the phone vibrating would probably still be easily heard.

Actual Sound Birds Make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296221)

Further analysis of the audio also revealed that the birds also say "Oh Sh*t" when they take off.

Re:Actual Sound Birds Make (1)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296981)

Actually, they are requesting emergency clearance from the avian control tower

Natural alarm. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296283)

So a bird who's wings create a whistling sound in flight creates a different sound when it flees from a predator and that is interpreted as an alarm by other birds.

It seems to me that the "alarm" is a side effect of "getting out of Dodge" and nothing more. The bird did not do anything different than any other fleeing bird when it created the noise. I did not do something special with its wings other than beat them harder and faster to get away faster

The fact that other birds also react is a no brainer; "Gee, someone is fleeing from something, I better go too".

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296393)

The interesting thing isn't that bids make a noise when they fly off, and that it's different to the noise when they fly off in a panic.

The interesting thing is that OTHER BIRDS react to this noise and understand there is danger nearby.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296441)

Sorry, still not "interesting". I bet if any noise was played at the same volume as the "alarm", different frequencies but same volume, that the birds would flee just as well. Birds fly from loud noises; any loud noises.

Attributing something special to a bird's natural reaction to flee noise in suspect at best.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Andvari (685645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296765)

The link in the article is short on details, however the recordings were played louder and the birds did not respond. (the full paper is available as a pre-print from proceedings B)

Re:Natural alarm. (5, Informative)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297073)

Mae here. Actually, we DID do exactly that to control for the possibility that they were simply responding to the louder noise. During playbacks we also played a series of neutral natural sounds (rosella bell calls) that we matched in amplitude to the volume of the alarmed whistle, the birds paid absolutely no attention to them. We also played whistles recorded under non-alarmed conditions at 'alarmed' volume, again the birds did not respond. They only responded to whistles recorded under alarmed conditions, played back at alarmed volume (and once or twice to whistles recorded under alarmed conditions but softened to the volume of non-alarmed whistles). Give us some credit, a lot of time and thought is put into experimental design. In answer to the previous note, indeed the 'alarm' is linked with 'getting out of dodge'. As such, we can not distinguish yet if the whistle is an intentional 'signal' or simply a 'cue', we state this in our paper. Possibly the sound is intended for another purpose (mate choice? species recognition?) and the fact that it also indicates alarm is a side effect. Irregardless of intended function from the perspective of the 'signaller', it still produces a different sound in alarmed flight and co-specific birds are still using it as an indication to flee, and benefiting from doing so. Another note, It is different from the wing noises of other birds in that the upbeat and downbeat produce very different tones resulting in a 'pulsed' sound during flapping. In other birds you just hear an indistinct 'whoosh' during flight, in Crested Pigeons the pulse enables you to hear the faster alarmed flap rate quite clearly. If all birds flew away every time they heard another bird fly (without knowing how alarmed that bird was) they would never get anything done! I expect many species deliver information through noisy take-off's in alarm, its just that the Crested has exaggerated it to communicate the degree of alarm more reliably, thus negating the need for additional vocal alarms. It is actually quite a neat system, it is more inherently honest/stable then standard vocal alarms in that there is a much higher price to 'faking' an alarm, as the bird MUST fly away, and hard, in order to produce an 'alarmed' type whistle. Thus eliminating any benefit it might have received through getting unlimited access to resources. In vocal alarm systems, there are practically no costs to producing false alarms. Additionally, the bird can't 'forget' to produce the sound, the whistle is inherently graded and it also does not take any extra effort to produce. Additionally, since it causes all the other birds to also flee, it offers a benefit to alarm signalling, the escape of the individual who first flies away will be 'hidden' in the flights of others and the huge noise produced by the escaping flock is also likely to double as a way to scare/distract the predator. All at no extra cost, given the bird would be escaping anyway. Anyway, sorry you didn't find it interesting, each to their own. I know i loved working on it, and i think they are fantastic little birds, lots of character :) p.s. Sorry for the super long post. Ooops! Overenthusiasm.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297121)

wow. sorry guys. I originally had paragraphs in there. Not sure what happened o_O

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297433)

/. ate them. You were probably posting in HTML mode instead of test mode.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297443)

Text mode. Damn non-editable posts.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297803)

You're supposed to edit BEFORE you publish, not after.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297925)

Thanks for responding in slashdot. Not many original authors show this much enthu. After all most slashdotters are not qualified in experimental biology and we are prone to comment without reading either the article or the summary. So many authors, quite reasonably, dismiss slashdot criticisms as fluff. Thanks for setting the record stragitht.

.

Irregardless is not a proper word. Regardless is what you mean from the context. The prefix Irr is usually negative (example: regular, irregular). If irregardless is really a word, it would mean regardful or with regard.

.

Use the preview to check the formatting before posting.

.

Hope you become a regular here.

Re:Natural alarm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29304355)

Hope you become a regular here.

I used to be a researcher too, before I read Slashdot. Now I just try to boost my 'First post' count and get +5 Insightfuls.

Not that different from academia, me thinks...

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297865)

Researchers lose credibility when they use the word 'irregardless.'

FYI.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298407)

Ah. Sorry :( Fair point.
*hangs head in shame*
*goes to sit in the naughty corner wearing the 'illiterate dumbo' hat in order to have time to think about what she has done*.
*repents*

On the plus side, having been suitably chastised, I promise I will use the word 'regardless' from now on :D Please be patient, I am new to the whole 'being a researcher' thing (this work was my honour's project) and still finding my feet. I am guessing using too many emoticons is going to be frowned upon too, so apologies in advance for that.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

do_kev (1086225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29301629)

If you want to fill the void in your vocabulary from the discovery that irregardless isn't a word, try 'irrespective.'

Added bonus: when pompous people try and claim that 'irrespective' isn't a word (probably because they are confusing it with irregardless,) you can smile smugly and inform them of their ignorance.

Re:Natural alarm. (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299887)

In vocal alarm systems, there are practically no costs to producing false alarms.

And a possibility for great reward, as the Blue Jays know well. Bastards love to alarm call right as they're swooping in to the bird feeder.

Anyway, sorry you didn't find it interesting, each to their own.

Yeah, I wouldn't put much stock in the fact that a guy who knows literally nothing about the subject other than what they read in the summary, and is trying to use that vast body of knowledge to prove that they are smarter than researchers in the field, isn't "interested" by his own ill-informed conclusions about what is happening.

I think it's neat. :)

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29303071)

Thanks for the post. Very interesting stuff.

Re:Natural alarm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29304357)

Do Ruffed Grouse not also do something similar? When they are startled and take off, they make a loud "drumming" sound which I always assumed came from their wings. My understanding was that this sound is only produced if the bird is alarmed and it's clearly some kind of communication device.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

techess (1322623) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298595)

I think the other thing that is interested is that it isn't just "other birds". I have horses and I've always noticed that when a flock of birds take off normally that the horses won't even lift their heads from grazing. When the birds take off in a panic the horses heads come up and they scan looking for the predator and sometimes begin defensive measures (spooking or bolting).

When you spend a lot of time riding in fields on a spooky horse you get trained to the sound as well. Birds in a flock moving around no biggy; birds taking off in a panic though you better grab the reins and be ready because the horse under you may end up 15 feet to the side facing the opposite way before you even have a chance to realize what happened.

Re:Natural alarm. (2, Informative)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298977)

This is interesting! There is a lot of evidence that different bird species can recognize the alarm noises/actions of other bird species (with similar predators), and some stuff on monkeys recognizing bird alarms as well. I haven't heard of horses spooking to spooking bird flocks before. I wonder if the horse is spooking to the louder sound of a spooked flock, or if it understands that the birds have seen a threat. I guess it would depend what the birds were most often spooking from, if the birds usually spook to common predators such as snakes, i can see that it could evolve that the horse is utilizing the vigilance of the birds. However, if the most frequent predators were cats, bird of prey etc. the horse would have no need to spook and is more likely responding to being startled by the birds themselves.

Re:Natural alarm. (1)

techess (1322623) | more than 4 years ago | (#29315675)

The horse that is worst for spooking at danger signs (the alpha horse) is also the only one that could probably survive on his own. Most of the others wouldn't last the winter. I have one that used to winter in Flordia before I got him an he still hasn't learned that you can't drink ice and he bangs his face into frozen puddles when he wants to drink.

Woodpigeons clap their wings (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29296307)

From http://www.gardenbird.co.uk/Wood-Pigeon-Information/Bird-Watching/GBS_birdType_WoodPigeon,default,pg.html

Sometimes they can be seen feeding on nut bags but because of their large size they generally forage on the ground and if they are disturbed when feeding they clap their wings to scare off other birds.

Run you pigeons! (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296321)

Did the researchers employ Robert Frost shaped balloon sculptures in this study?

Re:Run you pigeons! (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297143)

Haha! :) No, but I will keep it in mind for next time!

Mourning doves too... (1)

mrawl (124150) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296379)

I have mourning doves nestling on my balcony, their wings also whistle, but it seems like every time they take off, and not only when they're alarmed.

Re:Mourning doves too... (2, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296953)

Do mourning doves' wings whistle dirges?

Re:Mourning doves too... (2, Informative)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297615)

A similar study has actually been done on mourning doves. Crested pigeons also always whistle in flight (both non-alarmed and alarmed), its just that when alarmed the whistle sounds more rapidly pulsed and louder then it does when the bird is not alarmed.

I know the one... (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296409)

the abrupt metallic-sounding whistle that it makes on takeoff...

That scares the absolute crap out of you if you haven't noticed them while you are going out to hang the washing on the line. Just another one of the craaazzzyy animals that occupy my back yard.

Possums that fall out of trees when *you're* drunk, and then look all embarrassed about it - waaay too funny - I mean they live in trees.

Myopic Kookaburras that *miss the ground* when hunting for food and slide along in a cloud of dust and feathers, get up and look at you like 'oh it's just a human'.

The obstreperous lorikeets that race each other (they get to about 60kph) and decide both sides of your head is part of the obstacle course they are flying, squawking loudly as they pass by, also scaring the crap out of you.

Or the owls that sit on the washing line at night and wait until you are about a foot away from them before they fly off and *also* scare the crap out of you.

Oh yeah, Australian animals are all mental.

Re:I know the one... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296967)

That's right. And don't forget the drop-bears that hang from lamp-posts at night and drop on you if you haven't taken the precaution of rubbing Vegemite behind your ears.

;-D

Re:I know the one... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299169)

That's right. And don't forget the drop-bears that hang from lamp-posts at night and drop on you if you haven't taken the precaution of rubbing Vegemite behind your ears.

That's just cruel. Locals know that dropbears *love* vegemite as much as the ears that it is smeared on. YOU shouldn't be telling people such fabrications or else tourists might get hurt trying to stop them. A bit of responsibility, please.

Re:I know the one... (1)

antiphoton (821735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297213)

Don't forget the Dropbears. One of those buggers nearly took my head off last ANZAC Day while I was driving my ute down to pick up some prawns for the barbie.

Re:I know the one... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299259)

Don't forget the Dropbears. One of those buggers nearly took my head off last ANZAC Day while I was driving my ute down to pick up some prawns for the barbie.

One nearly took a roo steak I had on the barbie right off the barbie, the cheek of the thing. Fortunately I was on the last swig of me pale so I threw the bottle at the friggin thing. I dunno what it's like around your way but the drop bears here have been gettin *real* aggressive.

They can hurt ya, but maybe you can eat them?

Re:I know the one... (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29302795)

They can hurt ya, but maybe you can eat them?

Spoken like a true australian.

Re:I know the one... (2, Insightful)

ekhben (628371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29307013)

I am proud to live in a country where we can eat the animals on our national emblem.

Re:I know the one... (1)

OneArmedMan (606657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297417)

*sings!*
Red Backed, Red Bellied, Blue Ringed Octopus
Tiapan, Tiger Snake, Death Adder, Box Jellyfish
*Shark!!*

Come to Australia..... You might accidentally get killed!

Mourning Doves (1)

detritus. (46421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29296865)

Similar studies have been done with Mourning Doves [springerlink.com] (free abstract) and they have the same effect.

Re:Mourning Doves (2, Informative)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297097)

Yeah, i think its actually quite widespread. The mourning dove paper didn't manage to get them to flee, but i think that is because i think they amplitude matched alarm and non-alarm volumes. My birds did not flee either when the amplitude of the alarms was not natural, they were still more vigilant though. I think if they redid their work taking into account the volume aspect they would have got the exact same result.

Sound of pigeons flying. (1)

rew (6140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297177)

I've always wondered why pigeons fly so loudly. It costs energy to make sound, so it can't be efficient.

It all makes sense now.

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297629)

You can definitely hear the difference when a pigeon takes off due to being startled, and when it launches itself normally. I always considered the nosie to be from coming from its wings, and as a signal conveying danger. Somehow this news seems like it isn't.

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298803)

Indeed. The theory was all based in common sense. But so is much science. We are not claiming it is 'new' information per se, we are just providing evidence that a long held assumption was correct. Just because a difference in sound exists does not then prove that the birds actually use it in communication, this study did. We are not claiming to be geniuses for 'figuring it out' and know that lots of other people would have come to the same idea independently, we just wanted to test it. I think there is merit in testing theories through experimental measures, rather then saying 'well that's obvious, so lets not bother researching it'. Sure it's not rocket science, but the study of how animal's behave and communicate can still be interesting, even if the research doesn't really change the world.

Apologies if i just committed any further grammar crimes in that post :(

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298879)

Oh, believe me, of course I understand what science is, and I'm all for the independant and stringent validation of assumptions and even common knowledge. The point is, it's not really news, especially not on slashdot, is it?

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (1)

Ninja Pigeon (1630325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29299137)

I didn't mean to imply you didn't, sorry :(
As for news, I guess that depends on what you define as news. It's not 'people' news obviously, but some news is just about learning a bit about the natural world around you, more of gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I understand if you don't think it is appropriate for slashdot though, i don't really know what is appropriate here myself (i'm new, someone just emailed me that it was being discussed here) but i didn't actually post it here. You are welcome to complain to the person who posted it though. I am not really keen on forcing people to read about it if they don't want to, it's just something we were interested in that we wanted to share with other interested people. I am completely okay about the fact that some people will not find it of any import.

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29303113)

The summary says, "this is the first study to show that flight noise can also serve as an alarm call." I highly doubt this is true and the word "first" does not appear in the linked article.

Re:Sound of pigeons flying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29312049)

Instead of simply moving on to the next story, you wasted your time whining about what you consider being non-news. Luckily you are not the one to decide what gets posted. I think this was an interesting subject.

Acts... (2, Informative)

MarkoNo5 (139955) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297501)

Sound from bird wings acts .... Sounds act, sound acts, mr. samzenpus.

Flitter splat (1)

nisenephy (1603287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297837)

They don't differentiate between big squarish, four-wheeled predators and the more flappery kind.

turtle doves? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29300081)

We have a lot of turtledoves [wikipedia.org] around here and they make a very loud whistling sound when they take off abruptly, usually causing every small critter (birds, squirrels, etc) in the area to scramble. Nothing new here?

This Thread is Useless Without Audio (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29300459)

I found some linked from this writeup [sciencemag.org] . It's a neat sound, one I'm tempted to sample and throw into music, but then again I say that after hearing almost anything.

Mourning Doves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29300621)

Making intentional sounds with wings is not unique to Australia. I recently learned that Mourning Doves (I'm in California) also make a sort of squawking sound with their wings when they take off sometimes. (I had always assumed it was their voices.) They can fly quietly when they want to, so I presume the purpose is to raise the alarm.

I thought it was already well known (1)

Heytunk (1559837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29301821)

That most bird species make a different sound on a alarmed take off.

Most of them just beat their wings harder than normal to make a thumping sound to alert other birds to the possibility of danger.

I find your lack of sufficient fart jokes to be (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308397)

disturbing.

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