White Bellbird

Procnias albus Order: Passeriformes Family: Cotingidae (Cotingas)
Procnias albus Order: Passeriformes Family: Cotingidae (Cotingas)

I’ve never been to the part of South America where White Bellbirds live, so have seen nor heard this bird who has an entry in Guinness World Records:

White Bellbird: Loudest bird call. Native to the rainforest of the Guianas, Venezuela and northern Brazil, male white bellbirds (Procnias albus) have been recorded producing calls up to 125.4 decibels during courtship displays. The findings were reported in the journal Current Biology on 21 October 2019.

Until this point, the loudest bird on record was the screaming piha (Lipaugus vociferans), which is from the same family as the white bellbird (Cotingidae), but the bellbirds’ calls exceed the loudest calls of the piha by around three-fold.

An examination of the internal anatomy of the white bellbird in 2017 revealed an extremely well-developed abdominal muscles – essentially “a six pack” as the authors describe it. This led them to investigate whether this feature plays a part in its famously loud vocalizations, which is when the off-the-charts calls were recorded.

The calls of the male bellbirds are so loud and performed at such close proximity that the researchers have questioned how the hearing of the females is not damaged! It was found that a correlation seems to exist between volume and length of call – i.e., the louder the call, the shorter they tend to be.

The vocalizations were recorded using “a calibrated sound level meter that samples amplitude values 50 times per second, suitable for capturing rapid vocal amplitude modulations.”

The study was a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA) and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (Brazil), co-authored by ornithologist Mario Cohn-Haft and biologist Professor Jeffrey Podos.

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