Listen closely to a Java sparrow sing: Interspersed among the notes will be clicks that the bird makes with its bill. All male birds use the clicking sounds in their songs — and the patterns appear to be passed from father to son, a new study reports.

Masayo Soma and Chihiro Mori of the Hokkaido University in Japan analyzed recordings of 30 male birds. These were a domesticated version of the species Lonchura oryzivora, which is native to the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali (and on the decline because so many have been trapped for the pet trade). Twenty-two of the birds were related (fathers and sons or foster sons), seven were reared in isolation and the last bird grew up among Bengalese finches that don’t make clicking sounds. The results of the analysis were published May 20 in PLOS ONE.

The click sound can be produced without learning, Soma and Mori found. All the birds, including those that were reared on their own and never heard another Java sparrow, sang songs that included bill clicks at least some of the time. Older birds produced the sounds in almost every song; younger ones less often. They appeared to get the hang of the sound and incorporating it into songs by about six months of age, the researchers found.

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Fascinating! So many sounds of animals and birds are learned from elders. If deprived of a model, many do not create the sounds on their own. I am thinking of the "'Click Language' and the San Bushmen People" as depicted by Spencer Wells jn "The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey" (2003) by PBS and National Geographic

According to this study by Masayo Soma and Chihiro Mori, "The click sound can be produced without learning".


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