Are high perches in the blackcap Sylvia atricapilla song or listening posts? A sound transmission study

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Birds often sing from high perches referred to as song posts. However, birds also listen and keep a lookout from these perches. We used a sound transmission experiment to investigate the changes for receiving and sending conditions that a territorial songbird may experience by moving upwards in the vegetation. Representative song elements of the blackcap Sylvia atricapilla were transmitted in a forest habitat in spring using a complete factorial design with natural transmission distances and speaker and microphone heights. Four aspects of sound degradation were quantified: signal-to-noise ratio, excess attenuation, distortion within the sounds determined as a blur ratio, and prolongation of the sounds with "tails" of echoes determined as a tail-to-signal ratio. All four measures indicated that degradation decreased with speaker and microphone height. However, the decrease was considerably higher for the microphone than for the speaker. This suggests that choosing high perches in a forest at spring results in more benefits to blackcaps in terms of improved communication conditions when they act as receivers than as senders. ©2005 Acoustical Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)442-449
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

acoustic wave transmission, bioacoustics, biocommunications, acoustic wave absorption, acoustic distortion, echo

ID: 84339