With sound as painful as 125 decibels, on a recent trek to the mountains of the Northern Amazon, ornithologists confirm that the male white bellbirds have the loudest birdsong ever recorded.
After careful measurement, the observation was published in the journal Current Biology, but it comes with some unanswered questions. Jeff Podos, a bird vocalisation researcher says that most animals reserve their loudest calls for long-distance communication, but the male white bellbird blasts the louder of its two songs within 13 feet of females.
Researches think that the anatomy of the bird, made up of unusually thick ribs and abdominal muscles has much to do with the bird’s loud calls.
Compared to the screaming piha, a relative to the bellbird that was previously considered one of the loudest known birds, the white bellbirds sing over 9 decibels louder. The song males sing most often can reach 116 decibels, while the version they sing to females can reach 125 decibels. Though it’s hard to compare vocalisations amongst species, Podos says, these calls are louder than those of howler monkeys, or a chain saw operating three feet away.
The researchers think this volume might damage the female’s hearing, but maybe it’s a sacrifice she is willing to make for the sake of a good mate.