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September 26, 2020

Hear birds communicate without using their beaks

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[Fork-tailed flycatcher]

From Inverse:

Like humans using body language to send non-verbal signals, some bird species communicate without opening their beaks.

The fork-tailed flycatcher is among the birds that rustles its feathers or flaps its wings to send messages during life's biggest moments, whether it is fighting and mating.

Beyond being a quirky communication tool for the birds, this technique is also useful for researchers who want to learn more about these species.

In fact, detecting subtle differences in the sound from a rustling fork-tailed flycatcher has revealed two subspecies of the bird have different "accents."

The findings were published last month in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology.

The fork-tailed flycatcher lives in the American tropics.

As its name suggests, the bird's tail-feathers split into two long, elegant wisps.

The side and shape of those wisps, it turns out, affects the sound the birds' feathers make.

Researchers recorded these sounds and charted the differences and similarities between different birds.

By listening to the fluttering sounds, called sonations, researchers discovered that the two subspecies of fork-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus savana, sound a little different.

The subspecies were previously discovered, distinguished by their different migration patterns.

The subspecies are:

Tyrannus savana savana, a migratory subspecies, which sounds like this:

Inverse · T.s.savana

Tyrannus savana monachus, which lives year-round in the northern part of South America and sounds like this

The migratory subspecies of fork-tailed flycatcher breeds in the southern part of South America, but flies north in the winter, when the two subspecies live together.

But in the migratory subspecies, males' wing feathers are shaped differently than their residential counterparts: the tips of the feathers are skinnier.

Because of that, when these two subspecies flutter their feathers, the noise they make is ever so slightly different, too.

Valentina Gómez-Bahamón, a researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago, led the study.

Gómez-Bahamón explains that the new findings help to confirm the differences between the two subspecies of fork-tailed flycatcher.

"We already knew from past genetic analysis that the two groups are becoming different species, so we wanted to know if there were any differences in the sounds that the males produce with their wings," Gómez-Bahamón said in a statement.

"We not only confirmed the way that these birds make sounds with their feathers, but also that the sounds are different for the two subspecies."

When animals use structures other than their vocal apparatus to communicate, the resulting sound is known as a sonation.

 The fork-tailed flycatcher's sonations are typically used while the animals are fighting or calling to a mate. The sound comes from the birds' outer primary feathers, the large feathers that help them fly.

With the new finding, researchers identify a different dialect of these ruffle-based communications.

Researchers have looked at bird song dialects before.

For instance, a previous study showed how a specific sparrow song variation spread across North America, shared between individuals that spent their winters together.

In the new research, it seems birds may also hew to certain dialectical characteristics without even opening their beaks.

"I like seeing how different ecological strategies, like migration, can indirectly affect communication signals," Gómez-Bahamón noted. "I think that's super cool."

Me too.

Want more?

Your wish is my demand.


Sonations in Migratory and Non-migratory Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana)

Sonations are sounds that animals produce with structures other than the vocal apparatus for communication. In birds, many sonations are usually produced with modified flight feathers through diverse kinematic mechanisms. For instance, aeroelastic fluttering of feathers produces tonal sound when airflow exceeds a threshold velocity and induces flight feathers to oscillate at a constant frequency. The Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) is a Neotropical bird with both migratory and year-round resident subspecies that differ in the shape of the outer primary feathers of their wings. By integrating behavioral observations, audio recordings and high-speed videos, we find that male Fork-tailed flycatchers produce sonations with their outer primary feathers P8-10, and possibly P7. These sounds are produced during different behavioral contexts including: the pre-dawn display, intraspecific territorial disputes, when attacking potential nest predators, and when escaping. By placing feathers in a wind tunnel, we elicited flutter at frequencies that matched the acoustic signature of sounds recorded in the wild, indicating that the kinematic mechanism responsible for sound production is aeroelastic flutter. Video of wild birds indicated that sonations were produced during the downstroke. Finally, the feathers of migratory (T.s.savana) and year-round resident (T.s.monachus) Fork-tailed flycatchers flutter in feather locations that differ in shape between the subspecies, and these shape differences between the subspecies result in sounds produced at different frequencies.

the abstract  of the published paper.

September 26, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Early Hour' — Wislawa Szymborska


I'm still asleep,
but meanwhile facts are taking place.
The window grows white,
the darknesses turn gray,
the room works its way from hazy space,
pale, shaky stripes seek its support.
By turns, unhurried,
since this is a ceremony,
the planes of walls and ceiling dawn,
shapes separate,
one from the other,
left to right.
The distances between objects irradiate,
the first glints twitter
on the tumbler, the doorknob.
Whatever had been displaced yesterday,
had fallen to the floor,
been contained in picture frames,
is no longer simply happening, but is.
Only the details
have not yet entered the field of vision.
But look out, look out, look out,
all indicators point to returning colors
and even the smallest thing regains its own hue
along with a hint of shadow.
This rarely astounds me, but it should.
I usually wake up in the role of belated witness,
with the miracle already achieved,
the day defined
and dawning masterfully recast as morning.




September 26, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Io's Shadow on Jupiter

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From CNET:

We're all familiar with Jupiter's Great Red Spot storm, but sometimes the planet gets to wear a different kind of spot.

NASA's Juno mission captured a spectacular view of the gas giant's moon Io casting a round shadow onto Jupiter's swirling storms.

"As with solar eclipses on the Earth, within the dark circle racing across Jupiter's cloud tops one would witness a full solar eclipse as Io passes in front of the Sun," NASA said in a statement last week

Juno has been in orbit around Jupiter since 2016.

It snapped the moon shadow in late 2019 during a close flyby.

Citizen scientist Kevin Gill, who's also a software engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, processed the image to bring out the planet's dramatic colors. 

The shadow is about 2,200 miles wide.

For reference, Earth's diameter is 7,918 miles.

Io, home to active volcanoes, is just one of Jupiter's 79 confirmed moons and also one of the largest.

When conditions are right, humans on Earth can even spot it with a decent set of binoculars.

September 26, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Newspaper Navigator — 'Search 1.56 million historic newspaper photos'

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Free, the way we like it.

Fair warning....

Back story here.

September 26, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amazon Ring Drone Security Camera

From websites:

The Always Home Cam is an ambitious new home security device.

It is an autonomous drone that can fly around inside your home to give you a view of any room you want when you're not home.

Once it's done flying, the Always Home Cam returns to its dock to charge its battery.

Jamie Siminoff, Ring's founder and "chief inventor," says the idea behind the Always Home Cam is to provide multiple viewpoints throughout the home without requiring the use of multiple cameras. 

The Always Home Cam is fully autonomous, but owners can tell it what path it can take and where it can go.

When you first get the device, you build a map of your home for it to follow, which allows you to ask it for specific viewpoints such as the kitchen or bedroom.

The drone can be commanded to fly on demand or programmed to fly when a disturbance is detected by a linked Ring Alarm system.

The charging dock blocks the camera's view, and the camera only records when it is in flight.

Ring says the drone makes an audible noise when flying so it is obvious when footage is being recorded.

Ring says the camera, which records 1080p video, can be used for simple things like checking if a stove was left on or a window left open, or if a door is locked when you’re away from the home.

It features obstacle avoidance technology to allow it to avoid objects in its path and its shrouded propellers prevent damage to property or hurting a pet or person that might collide with the drone.

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The drone is expected to cost $249.99 when it starts shipping next year.

[via my Crack Pittsburgh Correspondent©®]


Note added 9:31 a.m. ET today (Saturday, September 26, 2020): my Crack Research Team©® just happened on a New York Times story headlined "Amazon Unveils Drone That Films Inside Your Home. What Could Go Wrong?"

September 26, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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