The white bellbird, which lives in the mountains of the north-eastern Amazon, is recorded as a pneumatic drill at 125 decibels (dB), three times louder than the next bird in the pecking order, the screaming piha.
Mario Cohn-Haft, an ornithologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research and the author of a paper published in the journal Current Biology, captured in the Brazilian state of Roraima in 201
It was about 30cm (12in) long from beak to tail, said Cohn-Haft. He dissected it in the field, removing the skin and some organs to prepare it to be added to his collection. Something caught his eye under the bird's pure white feathers: a muscular, sculpted chest.
Cohn Prison enlisted the help of Jeff Podos, an Animal Behavior Specialist at the University of Massachusetts and a co-author of the book, "It's a Six Pack." author of the paper, to study the white bellbird.
Cohn Prison and Podos returned to Roraima and crept up to within 40 yards (130ft) of white bellbirds singing from bare branches. They had a directional microphone and a precision audio recorder.
The scientists thus had front row seats to watch the birds' bizarre courtship rituals. The female alights on a branch about a male of the male, which promptly begins singing the louder of the two songs in its repertoire. Cohn-Haft said the male faces directly away from the potential mate for the first of the song's notes. Then in a fraction of a second, he swivels around and yells the second note "right in her face."
"She knows it's coming," said Cohn-Haft, because just before the second note she flutters back a few meters. The male has a long black wattle hanging down from the top of his head that whips around when he turns his head.
The bird's song was recorded at 125dB, which cohn detention and podos say raises many questions. For starters, said Podos,
The researchers suggested the unusual call may be the result of sexual selection.
"Survival is easy enough, so those birds are free to develop traits that," Cohn-Haft speculated that plentiful food in the bellbird's mountain habitat had become unheard of from strict obedience to the dictates of survival of the fittest. "He said these traits had more in common with the" beauty "of a song than a utilitarian exercise as hunting or tools for fighting such as teeth and claws.
"This is an example of sexual selection gone wild," said Podos.
He said there is no particular scientific benefit to identifying the most deafening birdsong, any more than there what to identify the animal kingdom's swiftest runner. But these are the most important facts about nature's extremes. He said. "It's a good place to understand the nature of things," he said.