Study Shows There Is More To Birds’ Songs Than We Know

First Posted: Aug 19, 2016 07:06 AM EDT

Like humans, it seems that birds also pick up embryotic learning from their parents. And it seems that the songs birds sing play a bigger role than we could have possibly imagined.

It seems that birds that are already feeling the heat from the warming weather and they are giving their offspring early weather advisory though the eggshells, which could help the baby birds prepare for the heat. The study showed that the songs zebra finches sing to their eggs during late development may give the young a head start in dealing with the warm weather.

The Smithsonian noted that researchers knew long ago that chickens and quails can hear through the eggs, allowing them to imprint on their mothers. However, years before that, nobody believed there is anything that could happen while these chicks are still inside the eggs. For 50 years, it was believed that birds are dependent on their parents.

A study published in the journal Science, however, showed that certain zebra finch calls can change the young's growth and behavior once they become adults. Kate Buchanan, an associate professor of animal ecology at Deakin University in Australia and senior author of the paper said, "This acoustic signal is potentially being used to program the development of offspring. Hearing the call affects your rate of growth relative to the temperature that you experience.

She also added, "Animals have very subtle ways of inferring how the environment is likely to change, and (being able) to develop and adapt accordingly. We're only looking at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we recognize so far... It is quite paradigm-shifting."

There is more to be studied about, and Buchanan said that there are wide implications for the research if they go beyond zebra finches - especially in discussing the kind of information parents can pass onto their offspring while still in the embryonic stage.

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