Vocal tract filtering and sound radiation in a songbird

Brian S. Nelson, Gabriël J.L. Deckers, Roderick A. Suthers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bird vocalizations resonate as they propagate through a relatively long trachea and radiate out from the oral cavity. Several studies have described the dynamics with which birds actively vary beak gape while singing and it has been hypothesized that birds vary beak gape as a mechanism for varying vocal tract resonances. Nevertheless, few studies have attempted to quantify the effects of beak gape on vocal tract resonances. We replaced eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus L., syringes with a small speaker and obtained recordings of frequency sweeps while rotating each subject in a horizontal plane aligned with either the maxilla or mandible. We describe vocal tract resonances as well as how sound radiates as a function of beak gape. Results are inconsistent with the hypothesis that songbirds vary beak gape as a mechanism for 'tracking' fundamental frequencies in vocalizations. Instead, decreases in beak gape seem to attenuate resonances that occur between ∼4 and 7.5 kHz. We propose that songbirds vary beak gape as a mechanism for excluding and/or concentrating energy within at least two distinct sound frequency channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-308
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume208
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

Fingerprint

Beak
Songbirds
songbird
beak
songbirds
Radiation
vocalization
bird
Birds
mouthparts
birds
cavity
Singing
trachea (vertebrates)
syringes
Syringes
Maxilla
concentrating
radiation
sound

Keywords

  • Beak gape
  • Directional sound radiation
  • Songbird
  • Vocal production
  • Vocal tract resonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Vocal tract filtering and sound radiation in a songbird. / Nelson, Brian S.; Deckers, Gabriël J.L.; Suthers, Roderick A.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 208, No. 2, 01.01.2005, p. 297-308.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nelson, Brian S. ; Deckers, Gabriël J.L. ; Suthers, Roderick A. / Vocal tract filtering and sound radiation in a songbird. In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 2005 ; Vol. 208, No. 2. pp. 297-308.
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