You might not be able to distinguish between very many bird calls, but if you're ever in range of a white bellbird, you won't have any trouble identifying it. Its call is the loudest in the avian world. In actuality, you probably wouldn't want to be in close proximity, since the white bellbird's mating call can reach above 125 decibels, or the equivalent of a pile driver. That level is barely below what is considered literally deafening to humans. Anything above 110 decibels causes pain.
What's particularly amazing is that this huge sound comes from a relatively small bird. The white bellbird is only about the size of a dove. Biologist Jeff Podos of the University of Massachusetts Amherst explained that even the birds themselves try to avoid the loudest calls. When a male and female sing together, the male starts by facing away from the female, but then turns to continue. "He blasts that second note right where the female would have been, except the female knows what's coming and she's not going to sit there and accept that so she flies backwards," Podos said.
Luckily for most of our ears, you're not particularly likely to come across one in the wild: the bellbird is indigenous only to a few areas of South America, including the northern Amazon region.
Call of the wild birds:
- Some songbirds are believed to take approximately 30 small breaths per second while they sing their songs.
- For the most part, birds that sing are males; their songs are meant to attract female mates.
- Some birds learn to imitate the songs of other birds; the marsh warbler is said to be capable of crooning the songs of some 70 bird species.