Letter | Published:

Ultrasonic Frequencies in Bird Song

Naturevolume 193page595 (1962) | Download Citation



THERE is much circumstantial evidence that, in the majority of birds at least, the communicative function of call notes and song depends principally if not entirely on those frequencies which fall within the range of normal human hearing1. Nevertheless, the limitations of the recording apparatus which has so far been used in the study of bird song are such that any ultrasonic frequencies present would probably have escaped detection. It seemed worth while, therefore, to take advantage of a recent opportunity to use apparatus designed for the recording and analysis of the ultrasonic cries of bats to study some representative examples of bird song which are known to contain fundamentals of high frequency and in which it was suspected, on more or less good evidence, higher frequency harmonics might also be found. The design and performance of the microphones and tape recorders used in this study will be fully described in a forthcoming publication on the subject2. They allowed reasonably accurate estimates of amplitude from about 50 c./s. to well over 100 kc./s.

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  1. 1

    Thorpe, W. H., Bird Song: the Biology of Vocal Communication and Expression in Birds (Cambridge, 1961).

  2. 2

    Thorpe, W. H., and Griffin, D. R., Ibis, 104 (in the press).

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  1. Sub-department of Animal Behaviour, Department of Zoology, Cambridge

    • W. H. THORPE
    •  & D. R. GRIFFIN


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