How to hear the Devil horns of the Great Horned Owl
The horns of this iconic horned owls horn are one of the most important sounds in the world, and can be heard all around the world.
Now, a team of researchers from the US, Japan and Australia has discovered that the horn has the capacity to transmit sounds from one species to another, including from birds to bats.
In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State), the University of Sydney, and the University and College of Wales in Wales show that the Great Black Owl (Aquila americana) uses the sounds of this horn to communicate with its relatives in Australia and New Zealand.
The researchers discovered the communication process using an infrared-sensitive transmitter, which they mounted on a wall of a bird cage and attached to a piece of glass, so that it could be hidden from the surrounding environment.
They then placed a camera and a microphone in the cage, and captured the sound of the owl’s call.
They also captured images of the bird cage with the transmitter attached to the glass, which revealed that the bird had made an attempt to communicate by sending a small amount of sound from one ear to another using the vibrations of the glass.
“We wanted to find out what the sounds were and how they were sent,” said lead author Dr Peter Gomes from NC State.
“If the owl was making a sound, it would be like a ‘wail’.”
In order to communicate, the owl would use vibrations of sound to convey a message.
“Dr Gomes said the researchers also found evidence that this communication process took place during the day, when the owl might be active in the vicinity of the cage.”
But during the night, the bird would be listening to the sounds from the cage through a piece on the glass and using the sound to send the message,” he said.
Dr Goms said this was not the first time the owl has communicated using a horn.
In a previous study published in The Royal Society Open Science journal, Dr Gomes and his colleagues found evidence of owls using their horn in another species.”
Our study shows that owls can use their calls to communicate to their relatives,” he added.”
This is an important finding because we know that owles use the call of the great horn to attract mates and communicate with other birds.
“Dr Chris Dickson, from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at NC State, said the findings suggested the owls “talk to each other” as they hunt.”
That means they might be able to communicate using their horns, but we don’t know how,” he explained.”
It’s a very exciting discovery.