Sound engineering for the birds reported in New Scientist, 12 January 2002, p12.

Scientists from the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Comparative Etholgy in Vienna recorded the songs of different species of Venezuelan Ant-birds and played them back at different heights above ground. They measured how fast the song faded and how well it could be heard above background noises.

The songs of each different species transmitted best at the natural perching height of that species. Ground dwelling birds had lower pitched, slower songs that avoided the garbling effect from sound bouncing off trees whilst birds that normally live high in forest canopy had high pitched rapid songs.

Editorial Comment: Anyone who has struggled to understand garbled announcements in crowded airports or railway stations will understand it takes intelligent design and forward planning as well as clever engineering to build clear communication sound systems. So, who taught the birds such good sound engineering?

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