Crested pigeons sound the alarm with their wings | Science News

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Crested pigeons sound the alarm with their wings

Specialized feathers produce high and low tones when the birds flee in a hurry

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1:28pm, November 9, 2017
crested pigeon flying

BEAT IT  Crested pigeons coordinate their escapes with wing sounds rather than vocal calls. The sound production is tied to wing movement during takeoff, and thus a highly reliable alarm signal, researchers say.

Crested pigeons communicate without even opening their beaks. The birds have a built-in alarm system that’s set off by fluttering feathers when flying away from danger, researchers report November 9 in Current Biology.

In animals, nonvocal sounds are not uncommon. “All animals produce sound as we move, even humans, and that sound can be useful to those that hear it,” says study coauthor Trevor Murray, a biologist at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Among birds, the go-to instruments for creating these sounds are the wings. Some birds, like Ecuador’s club-winged manakins, use wing sounds in mating rituals, while other species such as mourning doves make nonvocal sounds in times of perceived peril (SN: 7/30/05, p. 67). But whether such noises

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