White Bellbirds Are So Loud They Cause Mates Hearing Damage

The birds' song was recorded reaching volumes of 125 decibels.
Chris Young
The white bellbirdjsdeoliv/iStock

Some animals display stunning plumage while others sing sweet bird songs. Humans dress up and put a bit of perfume or cologne on in order to woo a potential partner.

One type of bird, however, dispenses with all of these pleasantries and cuts right to the chase when it comes to courting rituals.

Scientists are saying the loudest measured bird call is that of the white bellbird, or Procnias Albus, a creature that shrieks its mating call right into mates' faces.


Loud and clear

Two researchers measured the white bellbird's songs finding they reached levels up to 125 decibels. That is roughly the same volume as your average ambulance siren.

The previous loudest recorded bird, the screaming piha, reaches volumes of up to 116 decibels.

“Female bellbirds might actively balance an interest in assessing males at close range while trying to limit hearing damage,” one of the study's authors writes.

Bird tracking

The researchers tracked and recorded eight white bellbirds and three screaming pihas in their native habitats — mountainous South American rainforest locations.

The scientists were able to capture the white bellbirds' two separate types of songs. One of these, the rarer of the two, is incredibly loud (up to 125 decibels).

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The bids' larynxes have a special organ attached called a syrinx that produces these incredible noises out of such a small bird.

Bizarre bird behavior

What's more, the scientists observed the male birds producing this sound right in the face of the female mates they were trying to court.

Why would the females subject themselves to such irritating habits?

The scientists suggest the female birds simply put up with the annoying behavior of their male counterparts in order to assess their potential mates from a close range.

Males shouting into females' faces to impress them — where have we seen that one before?