I still have a cold, so let's let some birds do part of the talking in this episode about more weird bird calls!
Listen to the Loudest Bird Ever Recorded
A video of the screaming piha. You need to see this.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a real bird, and an adorable one too:
The mute swan is not actually mute:
The white bellbird is the loudest bird ever recorded (photo by Anselmo d’Affonseca):
The screaming piha is hilariously loud. Left, sitting like a normal bird. Right, screaming:
Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.
I still have this rotten cold, although I’m getting over it. As you can hear, my voice is pretty messed up, so for this episode I’ll let birds do some of the talking for me. Yes, it’s another weird bird calls episode!
We’ll start with this cute little call:
[yellow-bellied sapsucker call]
That’s not a dog’s squeaky toy, it’s a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Yes, that’s a real bird. It’s a type of woodpecker that lives in much of eastern and northern North America, breeding in Canada and spending winters in the eastern United States and Mexico. I get them in my yard sometimes. The sapsucker will also drum on dead trees and other items to make a loud sound to communicate with other sapsuckers.
It mostly eats tree sap, but it also eats berries, small insects, and fruit. To get the tree sap, it drills small holes in tree bark, usually in neat rows, and licks up the sap that oozes from the holes. If you ever see a tree with rows of little holes in the bark, that was done by a sapsucker. It can sometimes even kill trees this way, but for the most part it doesn’t hurt the tree unless the tree is already dying.
Males and females both forage for insects to feed their babies. They usually dip the insects in tree sap before feeding them to the chicks. Yummy!
Next up is this little grunty call:
[mute swan call]
Maybe it’s not exciting or loud, but it’s made by a bird you wouldn’t expect to hear, the mute swan. I mean, the word mute is right there in its name but it’s not mute at all. The mute swan is a big white waterfowl from Eurasia, although it’s been introduced to other parts of the world since it’s so pretty. Its legs are black with an orange and black bill, and it has a long neck that it uses to reach plants that are deeper underwater than ducks and most geese can get at. Its wingspan can be seven and a half feet across, or 2.4 meters. It’s more closely related to the black swan of Australia and the black-necked swan of South America than it is to other swan species from Eurasia.
Mute swans get their name not because they can’t make sounds, obviously, but because they’re not as noisy as other swan species. Not only does it make the little grunting sounds we just heard, it will sometimes hiss aggressively if a person or animal gets too close to its nest. Also, swans can give you such a wallop with their wings that they could knock you out stone cold, so it’s best to just watch them from a distance and not get too close. When mute swans fly, their wings make a distinctive thrumming sound that helps them stay in contact with other mute swans. This is what their wingbeats sound like:
[mute swans flying]
That sounds more like a UFO than a bird, just saying.
Next is a weird metallic call that doesn’t sound like a noise a bird could make either. It sounds like an industrial machine of some kind: