Listen to the world’s loudest bird call EVER: Amazonian white bellbird sets record with a deafening 125dB screech louder than a chainsaw or a car horn
- The bird only weighs half a pound but has very strong ribs and chest muscles
- Scientists found it in mountains in the north of the Amazon rainforest
- Its call is loud enough to damage human ears and may even be bad for mates
An Amazonian bird has become the loudest animal ever to be recorded.
The white bellbird has been caught on video producing its deafening buzzing screech which is louder than a chainsaw or a rock concert.
A small white bird with a black beak, the creature looks unassuming and weighs just half a pound (250g), but emits the monstrous 125dB noise when looking for a mate.
It has been filmed among the tree tops in mountains in the north of the Amazon rainforest, singing to a female to try and curry her favour.
The scientists who spotted the bird said the females may risk their hearing sitting so close, but it might be worth it to examine their mate.
The white bellbird has unusually thick ribs and muscles in its chest, scientists have found in the past, and these could help it produce a sound far larger than its size would suggest
‘We were lucky enough to see females join males on their display perches,’ said Professor Jeff Podos, a biologist from the University of Massachusetts.
‘In these cases, we saw that the males sing only their loudest songs.
‘Not only that, they swivel dramatically during these songs, so as to blast the song’s final note directly at the females.
‘We would love to know why females willingly stay so close to males as they sing so loudly.
HOW DOES THE BIRD’S CALL COMPARE TO OTHER LOUD NOISES?
Jet take-off from 82 feet – 150dB
Planes on aircraft carrier deck – 140dB
White bellbird – 125dB
Chainsaw – 120dB
Lion’s roar – 114dB
Live rock music – 110dB
Car horn from three feet – 110dB
Pneumatic drill (jackhammer) – 100dB
Wolf howl – 90dB
Howler monkey – 90dB
Damaging to human ear – 85dB
‘Maybe they are trying to assess males up close, though at the risk of some damage to their hearing systems.’
The bird emits a call which sounds like a buzzer and, in the video footage, starts off on one note then shifts to a higher one.
It holds its mouth wide open while it makes the sound and appears to be sitting at the highest point of a tree.
In comparison to other animals, the white bellbird’s call is three times louder than the previous record holder among birds, the screaming piha.
The human ear begins to get damaged when it hears sounds from about 85dB – some 40dB lower than the bellbird’s cry.
Standing three feet away from a car horn when it goes off is equal to about 110dB, while a pneumatical drill – or jackhammer – is 100dB.
A chainsaw is about 120dB and live rock music is about 110dB.
The researchers don’t know how the bird can manage to make such a loud noise, but it clearly takes a significant effort.
As the calls get louder, Professor Podos and his colleagues noticed, they also become shorter – potentially because the birds run out of breath while doing it.
The bellbirds have unusually thick muscles in their abdomen and particularly strong ribs, which may help it to make the racket, the scientists said.
Professor Podos added: ‘We don’t know how small animals manage to get so loud. We are truly at the early stages of understanding this biodiversity.’
The research was published in the journal Current Biology.
Professor Podos said: ‘We don’t know how small animals manage to get so loud. We are truly at the early stages of understanding this biodiversity’
WHAT IS A DECIBEL?
A decibel is a tenth (deci-) of a bel, named in honour of Alexander Graham Bell – the inventor of the telephone (pictured)
The name is a combination of honouring a scientific great and a Latin prefix.
One decibel is one tenth (deci-) of one bel, named in honour of Alexander Graham Bell – the inventor of the telephone.
Decibel is now widespread, but the bel is seldom used.
A decibel is a ratio between one physical property to another, on a logarithmic scale.
It is most commonly used to denote the volume of sound.
Masurements are often taken for the ‘power’ of a sound.
This means that a change in power by a factor of ten corresponds to a ten dB change in sound level.
Other examples of a logarithmic scale are the Richter-scale and the acidity (pH) of a solution.
It means that a sall increase on the scale requires a large jump to create.
This means that every increment is therefore larger than its predecessor, and this continues infinitely.
At higher numbers, the jumps become enormous.
That is why the difference between two earthquakes that measure 8.0 and 7.0 is far greater than two earthquakes that measured 5.0 and 4.0.
The same applies for sound, with the jump between 90 and 100 decibels far larger than the jump between 50 and 60 decibels.