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Re: psychoacoustic illusions by birds

Subject: Re: psychoacoustic illusions by birds
From: "Paulo Pulgarin" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 17:53:47 -0500
Dear Robert / Bioacusticians,

Birds imitate many kind of sounds, including other species, even not
related species for many reasons I won't explain here. Mimus
polyglottus is an example of mimicry. Another classic example is the
Superb Lyre Bird (Menura novaehollandiae) that imitates camera shots,
ambulances and other related human-made sounds. Check at:


Paulo C. Pulgarín-R
Instituto de Biología
Universidad de Antioquia
AA. 1226
Tel: +57(4)341693
Cel: 3128215436

>  Do you know of anyone interested in the production of psychoacoustic 
> illusions
>  by animals, particularly birds? I would like to know if anyone is familiar 
> the
>  subject or with what I experienced when I was in Mexico (Chichen Itza).
>  I heard a bird that could, in a rapid sequence, imitate the sound of a larger
>  wingspread bird taking off toward me, and of twigs rattling as though a heavy
>  bird had just launched from a dry branch. I am assuming this is an 
> evolutionary
>  adaptation to scare away predators of some kind. I know that the 
> effectiveness
>  of psychoacoustic illusions depends quite a bit on the shape of the 
> listener's
>  ears, so I'm surprised this illusion worked so well on me. I doubt if this
>  ability evolved to scare off humans.
>  I got the bird to make these sounds several times. It was very similar most
>  times, but a couple of times it wasn't quite as convincing or spirited. The
>  first time I heard it, I spun around to face the big bird coming at me, but
>  there was only a little black bird (perhaps seven inches long) sitting in a 
> tree
>  about thirty feet away.
>  I've never come across any information on an animal using psychoacoustics to
>  create an illusion.
>  I'd appreciate any contacts or ideas on this. I'm not a bird watcher, but I 
> am
>  interested in psychoacoustics because of recordings that
>  I make. This is why I knew what I was hearing. I have heard psychoacoustic
>  illusions of various kinds, but all of these were produced with software, not
>  animals.
>  Regards, Bob
>  Robert A. Yourell
>  Preparing people for challenges
>  "Sounds for Inner Space(tm)"
>  Mental Health Resources
>  619/377-1570
>  Toll free: 877/266-8880
>  San Diego, California, USA

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