The Animal Singdom
By Yovina Khiroya
Some time ago, I saw a client who talked to me about her singing cockatoo. It triggered for me a flashback to childhood times when I’d visit a plant farm with my parents that housed a singing cockatoo. It was a funny, ruffled looking thing with the croakiest voice. This clients story got me thinking about which other animals sing? It can’t be just birds. And why do animals sing? Why can’t I sing?
And so, I present to you some of the rockstars of the animal kingdom:
The primary reason that humpback whales sing is to attract mates, but they also sing to communicate their location. When mating season comes around, all male humpbacks sing the same song to attract the females. The exact same song? Really?If I were a whale and every guy was using the same pick-up line on me, I’d choose to stay single. Mathematical analysis of whale songs has shown that there are complex grammatical rules. The whales put together sounds to make phrases, which they turn into long melodies that are packed with information. The longest known whale song lasted for 20 whole hours! I really hope that whale got his girl in the end.
Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats
Contrary to their name, Brazilian free-tailed bats come from the U.S. A pair of researchers in the U.S. spent three years listening to thousands of recordings of Brazilian free-tailed bat songs. Three years! I would have gone batpoop crazy. They found that male bats have very distinct syllables and phrases that they put together to make love songs to attract nearby female bats. They even have songs to ward off their competition.
Pacific Chorus Frogs
The Pacific chorus frogs also sing to attract mates. During mating season, the male frogs hide in grass and shrubs, fill their throats up with air, and sing away. Hiding in shrubs and singing? Sounds a bit creepy to me…they also sing about the weather and to mark their territory. The croaking sounds of these frogs are often used as background sounds in movie scenes that take place at night. So, next time you’re watching a movie and you hear croaking sounds, whisper a little thank you to the Pacific Chorus Frogs for their romantic melodies.
Harris’s Antelope Squirrels
Harris’s antelope squirrels are found in the southern states of America. They are named after Edward Harris, a philanthropist, naturalist, and ornithologist. These squirrels sing for safety reasons. Lo and behold- an animal that isn’t singing because they want some action. They live in burrows in the desert and, before entering these burrows, they pause, stamp their feet, and sing (honey, I’m home!). They have to constantly be on high alert for predators, and use their songs to warn their friends of incoming danger.
A couple of researchers studied male mice that were placed in a cage with a female, or in a cage with just the scent of a female. They found that the mice had a song for when they were in the vicinity of a female, and one for when they could only smell her. When the male mice could only smell a female, they would sing a super high-pitched and complex song, probably to make their presence known. However, when they could see a female, they would serenade her more softly. Romantic. Researchers believe that the mice change up their song when they can see females in order to conserve energy. Romantic and efficient.
Okay, that’s it from me. I think you’ve probably heard enough about singing animals for one day. So, which one was your favourite? Mine would probably be the mice. I do enjoy a bit of romantic serenading.