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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Male Hummingbird Chirps Contain Hidden Song

A black-chinned hummingbird is pictured in the early morning at the Audubon Center in Santa Fe, N.M. (Pat Gaines/Flickr)

A black-chinned hummingbird is pictured in the early morning at the Audubon Center in Santa Fe, N.M. (Pat Gaines/Flickr)

Hummingbirds have an unusual mating ritual. The males fight to claim the best spot to sing and attract the females.

Patrick Skahill of Here & Now contributing station WNPR talked with Alejandro Rico-Guevara, a scientist at the University of Connecticut, who filmed the birds fighting and slowed the tape down to get a better look.

When playing back the slow-motion video, Rico-Guevara discovered something new: variations hidden within the male chirps that could be an additional way males reach out to the females.

Video: Hear the variations hidden in a single chirp

Reporter

  • Patrick Skahill, reporter at WNPR, covering science with an emphasis on health care and the environment. He tweets @ptskahill.

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