Stephen Martin <>
Re: RFI Birdsong
Andrew Taylor <>
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 11:17:07 +1100 (EST)
On Wed, 25 Nov 1998, Stephen Martin wrote:
> While researching, I've spoken to Cetaceans and read articles, who
> (and which) claim that humpback whales are the only known species to
> a) geographically distinct 'songs'(regional differences)
> b) change these 'songs'
> and which
> c) sing for more than a few seconds.
> I know that this is incorrect I've heard many bird species sing for
> much longer than 'a few seconds' and I understand that butcherbirds
> have regional variations - not to mention lyrebirds.
> Could someone please steer me towards an authoritative source for
> confrmation or refutation please ?
There is a little truth in (c). As (I think all) birds sing only as
they expire air, you could could say song length is limited by lung capcity.
However I don't think most people define songs this way. Also I believe
a single breath may last 20+ seconds, but I'm not sure about this.
Humpback Whales don't sing using expired air hence this "limit" isn't
I suspect the annual change in the song of (some?) Humpback Whale
populations is "larger" and more "complete" than in any bird.
A good ref is Bird Song by Catchpole & Slater - Cambridge University
Press, 1995. The chapter on song in Welty's "Life of Birds" is good too.
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