What do you know about how to interpret a bird song?
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New Scientist article New scientific findings suggest the best way to interpret birdsong may be to look at what they’re saying rather than what they don’t say.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers analysed the vocalisations of several species of birds and compared them to the written descriptions they provided.
The team used a sophisticated mathematical algorithm to analyse how different bird vocalisations were related to their written descriptions.
They found the best predictor of what a bird would be singing in the future was to look for patterns in their vocalisations.
This analysis allowed the researchers to show how the bird’s vocalisations are related to how they are spoken in their song.
The findings suggest that the most appropriate way to look into the written description of a bird is to focus on what the bird is saying in their written description.
“When you think about it, the most accurate way to think about birdsong is to ask ‘what is the song being said?’, rather than ‘what do birds do?'”
Dr Matthew Gollwitzer, a researcher from the University of Kent, said.
“We don’t know what the birds are saying, but what they are saying is what we can interpret.”
To get an idea of how well the mathematical model worked, the researchers recorded the vocalizations of a pair of black-capped crows.
They listened to them sing to one another, as well as to a bird called a dusky-bellied blackbird.
The birds are known for using a range of different songs to communicate with one another.
The researchers analysed what the crows were singing to the birds in each song and then compared their vocalisation patterns to those of the bird in the written record.
They then compared the two vocalisations to the bird they had previously recorded, which they were able to do in the lab.
They were able, in part, because of the fact that the researchers were able in the first place to listen to the two birds in the same environment.
“There’s so much information available about the bird we just didn’t have time to record everything,” Dr Gollwepper said.
The scientists found that the best predictive model was one that took into account the differences in the bird that was singing.
“The best predictor we can make for bird vocalisation is to look closely at the bird, to understand how it is speaking in that particular song,” Dr Hausdorff said.
They also found that birds were much better at predicting the next word they would be saying in the next song than they were at predicting their previous songs.
“Bird vocalisation predicts what they will be singing next, whether it is a new word, whether a word is coming back, or whether the next one will be new,” Dr Doreen McQuillan, an ecologist at the University, said, referring to the different ways that birds use the same song.
“They do a lot of things differently.”
It’s not yet clear why birds use different song structures in different songs.
The authors suggest it may be related to differences in their internal voice, the sound produced when a bird talks to itself.
“One possibility is that bird vocal structure is more flexible than language,” Dr McQuills said.
There is also a possibility that bird song is a more efficient tool for communication than words, Dr McPherson said.
This research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The ABC has invited the University to make a statement on this research.
New Scientist article New scientific findings suggest the best way to interpret birdsong may be to look at what they’re…