The male white bellbird (Procnias albus), which lives atop mountains in the Amazon region of northern Brazil, is – for now at least – the loudest known bird in the world.
Its mating call recently was found to have a sound pressure more than three times that of the previous champion – its Amazonian colleague the screaming piha (Lipaugus vociferans) – and is much louder than a chainsaw or a rock concert.
It’s so loud, in fact, that researchers led by Jeff Podos from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, US, and Mario Cohn-Haft, from the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Brazil, wonder how the “audience” can stand it.
“We were lucky enough to see females join males on their display perches,” says Podos. “In these cases, we saw that the males sing only their loudest songs.
“Not only that, they swivel dramatically during these songs, as to blast the song’s final note directly at the females. We would love to know why females willingly stay so close to males as they sing so loudly.”
There is some relief in the form of a trade-off, however. The louder the singing, the less time the singers can keep going.
Research into why these small birds can make such a loud noise is continuing.
The story to date is published in the journal Current Biology.