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Of Birds and Bees…in Australia

March 31
08:47 2021

Of Birds and Bees

By John Christian Hopkins

(Australia’s Wonderful Birds)

Have you had enough of silly, little love songs?

You know, who hasn’t heard enough of them? That would be the Australian honeyeater.

The Australian honeyeater is a rare bird – and one facing possible extinction. This time the culprit isn’t human encroachment or bird-eating koala bears.

Hey, if a duck-billed platypus can attract a mate, you wouldn’t think its that difficult to do.

It seems that the honeyeaters’ dire dilemma is self-inflicted.

Apparently the male of the species is a real dodo.

Scientists have discovered that male honeyeaters are forgetting how to sing! (And they have no fingers so tweeting is out of the question.)

Instead of wooing the ladies, the male honeyeaters make odd noises trying to mimic other birds, and those woeful tunes aren’t attracting the fairer sex.

That leaves the male honeyeaters singing the blues, and the females looking for love in all the wrong places.

But scientists are not just waiting for another somebody done somebody wrong song, instead they are searching for a way to help the male honeyeaters get their groove back on.

The yellow-speckled, nectar-eating honeyeaters learn their complex courting and territorial songs from elder honeyeaters. So when populations are very small, there’s no one for young honeyeaters to learn from.

Ross Crates at the Australian National University in Canberra and his team located more than 100 male honeyeaters by combining data from a monitoring program with public sightings reported.

The researchers recorded the birds’ songs and compared them with historical recordings.

Overall, 27% of males sang songs that differed from the typical melodies. Some 12% had resorted to singing the songs of other bird species.

There’s still hope though.

In the enchanting words of Dean Martin – every birdie loves some birdie, sometime.

Of Birds and Bees…in Australia - overview

Summary: Australian honeyeaters

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