Hummingbirds get their name from the sound produced by their rapidly beating wings, but another sound wins the hearts of female hummingbirds.
|© Donna L. Watkins - Rufous-tailed Hummingbird|
In some species, only a single tail feather produced the alluring notes, while in others all tail feathers chorused together. The Anna’s hummingbird, a common species of the U.S. Pacific Coast and Southwest, produced a sound that could be heard across the length of one and a half football fields.
The vibrations are species specific and may even provide females with clues about the fitness of individual males, says Christopher Clark, a biomechanics expert who conducted the study with colleagues from Yale and the University of California–Berkeley. “I know that in many species, the faster the male goes, the louder the sound,” he says. “So the feather sounds might indicate how good, which is to say how fast, a male is diving.”
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