Crested pigeons usually make some special and unusual sounds whenever they feel in danger. But interestingly enough, these sounds don’t come from their mouths, but from their wings. Ocyphaps lophotes, as they are scientifically called, have fascinated experts for years. Until now, it wasn’t a secret that they have a very loud flying and clapping of the wings. However, a new study, which Current Biology published, has discovered that the birds have the so-called whistling wings, which work as a panic alarm.
Crested pigeons are common in Australia and they have a special appearance too. The dove-like birds have a large spire of feathers on their heads. However, the sounds they make have incited experts and bird lovers as well. There is a metallic sound whenever they start flapping their wings. The wings of many bird make certain sounds when they flap. However, experts didn’t know until now if this was just the result of physics or if there was another purpose there. It seems there is.
The unusual alarm of the crested pigeons
About 150 years ago, Charles Darwin theorized that this “instrumental music” didn’t receive much attention, in comparison with the sounds birds make with their mouths. This is why the Australian team behind this study decided to look deeper and maybe find the purpose of these wings sounds.
After analyzing high-speed videos of crested pigeons and pairing them with recordings of the sound, they discovered something unusual. A certain flight feather of the birds was a bit different than all the others. The “P8” feather is narrow and it’s also half the width of the other feathers. So, the team decided to remove this feather from some birds and see what happens. The pigeons without the feather made completely different sounds.
The noise of the P8 feather also acted as an alarm for the other crested pigeons around, which seemed to react whenever they heard the sound. So, the metallic noise seems to be some kind of alarm for them. Also, it’s possible that many other birds have the same alarm, but experts haven’t figured it out yet.
Image source: flickr