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Peacock Hidden Messages

September 10, 2012

Peacocks communicate with sounds that fall below the range of human hearing.



Decoding the peacock.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Male peacocks are known for their gaudy displays to attract females. But now, scientists from the University of Manitoba report that peacocks also advertise themselves with sounds that fall below the range of human hearing. Animal behaviorist Angela Freeman says the sounds, produced in part by feather vibrations, also capture the attention of rival males.

ANGELA FREEMAN (University of Manitoba):

When we played back the displays in the infrasound ranges, we found that males would call and become alert and often run around in response to these infrasound signals.


She says other animals, such as elephants, giraffes, and whales also use infrasound to communicate, but that these signals have sometimes been overlooked because we can’t hear them.


People have started to notice that a lot of animals actually communicate in infrasound and it’s important that we don’t just focus on the things that are obvious to us, but we try and think if they’re obvious to the animals themselves.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

A male peacock displaying. (Copyright Vidhya Narayanan/Wikimedia Commons)