The critically endangered bird is losing its “singing culture” due to a rapid decline in the number of Regent Honeyeaters, according to a new study by the Australian National University (ANU). Just as humans learn to speak, many birds learn to sing with older birds of the same species. If adult birds are too rare, there is a risk of losing this skill.
If they don’t learn to sing a song sexy enough, their chances of mating will be reduced.
“If endangered birds don’t learn to sing properly, it can seriously affect their ability to communicate,” said lead author Dr. Us Crates, “and it may also exacerbate the decline in the number of Regent Honeyeaters because we know that a sexy song increases the chances of songbirds breeding.” Females avoid males who sing unusual songs. ”
The study found that in places where the number of Regent Honeyeaters is still high, males can sing rich and complex songs. In places where the number of birds is relatively small, males sing only simple or “completely wrong” songs.
Study co-author Dr. Dejan Stojanovic said: “For example, 18 males — about 12 percent of the population — could only mimic the sounds of other birds. The lack of ability to communicate with the same species is unprecedented in wildlife. As we can imagine, Regent Honeyeater is now so rare that some young males can no longer find older male teachers. ”
Studies have also shown that captive Regent Honeyeaters are completely different from wild calls.
The research team believes that this is crucial in protecting the environment.
“When artificially bred birds are finally released, their unusual singing may make them less attractive to wild birds, so we have the decided a new strategy to teach them to sing the same songs as wild birds by playing recordings to Regent Honeyeater,” Dr. Crates said. ”