World’s loudest bird sings heart out in pursuit of love

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The mating call of the white bellbird, which lives in the Amazon forest, makes it the loudest bird on the planet, according to the Current Biology journal. (AFP)
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This image obtained October 21, 2019 courtesy of Anselmo d’Affonseca shows a male white bellbird (Procnias albus)screaming its mating call. Deep in the Amazon, a white-plumed suitor weighing no more than half a pound turns to face his paramour before belting out a defeaning, klaxon-like call, reaching decibel levels equal to a pile driver. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

World’s loudest bird sings heart out in pursuit of love

  • The researchers wrote that its calls are so loud, they wondered how white bellbird females listen at close range without damaging their hearing

WASHINGTON: In the mountainous northern Amazon, a tiny white-plumed suitor turns to face his would-be paramour and belts out a deafening, klaxon-like call, reaching decibel levels equal to a pile driver.
Meet the white bellbird, which has just beaten out its rainforest neighbor, the screaming piha, for the title of the world’s loudest bird.
Biologist Jeff Podos at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Mario Cohn-Haft of Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia described the record-breaking finding in a paper published in the journal Current Biology on Monday.
The researchers wrote that its calls are so loud, they wondered how white bellbird females listen at close range without damaging their hearing.
The feat is all the more impressive given the species’ diminutive size: they’re about as big as doves, weighing around half a pound (a quarter of a kilogram).
The males are distinguished by a fleshy black wattle adorned with white specks that falls from the beak, while the females are green with dark streaks and wattle-less.
Podos told AFP he was lucky enough to witness females join males on their perches as they sang.
“He sings the first note facing away, and then he does this dramatic, almost theatrical swivel, where he swings around with his feet wide open and his wattle is kind of flailing around,” he said.
“And 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” by around four meters (13 feet).
It’s not clear why the females voluntarily expose themselves to the noise at such proximity, which reaches peak levels of 113 decibels — above the human pain threshold and equivalent to a loud rock concert or a turbo-prop plane 200 feet (60 meters) away achieving liftoff power.
“Maybe they are trying to assess males up close, though at the risk of some damage to their hearing systems,” Podos added.

Still, since the scientists didn’t actually observe the birds ever mating, “We don’t know if the males we saw were accomplished males or dorks,” said Podos.
The pair used high-quality sound recorders and high-speed video to slow the action enough to study how the bird uses its anatomy to achieve such levels of noise — louder than much larger howler monkeys or bison, but probably not as loud as lions, elephants or whales.
“We don’t know how small animals manage to get so loud. We are truly at the early stages of understanding this biodiversity,” said Podos.
They also found that as the bird’s call gets louder, it also gets shorter, and theorized the trade-off may be occurring because the birds’ respiratory systems have a finite ability to control airflow and generate sound.
This, they said, would place a natural anatomical limit on how loud the bird could evolve to become through sexual selection, or selection for traits that are advantageous for reproduction.


Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

Updated 04 June 2020

Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

  • US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic
  • Elective medical procedures resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery

MIAMI: Quarantined Florida residents worried about their laughter lines and crows’ feet need frown no longer — Botox is back, and it’s being offered at a drive-through.
On May 4, the US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.
“The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,” Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient.
Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.
Arman Ohevshalom, 36, was enthusiastic as he waited in line with his wife in their car, although it was their first time receiving the injections.
“It’s very creative, and after seeing how they’re running it I feel just as comfortable as I would in the office,” he said.
Florida’s tattoo artists, however, are frustrated. Shuttered since March, they asking why they cannot open, too.
Botox injections are “kind of like tattooing, he’s injecting stuff into the skin,” said tattoo shop owner Chico Cortez. Florida is home to about 10,000 working tattoo artists, according to the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild.
An emailed statement from a Miami-Dade County spokesperson said Mayor Carlos Gimenez has yet to set a date for reopening tattoo shops. “He is working with industry members and the medical experts to come up with the best way to reopen safely,” it said.