Saturday, September 25, 2010

Song of the White-rumped Shama Pt.1 of 79

It has been discussed before, the song of the White-rumped Shama. But here goes my thoughts......
Why do they sing? Whether its to protect its territory, finding a mate, warning of danger, I think it all bores down to simple communication. That is the summary of its purpose (in my distorted opinion).

To the human ears, we may be marvelling at its repertoire, loudness, melody etc according to our limited hearing capability, which scientists have concluded that it is very limited indeed when compared to animals. There are spectrum of frequencies that are just beyond the human ears. Now, taking the example of the male Shama singing to attract a female. Just by voice alone (maybe not), the female would judge the suitability of the male as a potential mate. Meaning that the song of the male Shama has to communicate the vigor, health and genetic suitability as a potential mate.

In defending his territory with songs, it too must communicate the message "don't play-play or I will kick your butt". So, potentially there is more to the song that meets the human ears, I should think. Very often, a male Shama in defending its territory, does not need to resort to physical violence. The lesser male will know its place and move away. As can be attested by many Shama keepers who claimed that their Shama "jammed" after being exposed to a fierce Shama. Or a particular Shama that has a tendency to "jammed" another that is placed near it.

Decades ago, it would have been the sole territory and capability of scientists to study and dwelve into this area. With the availability of many cheap gadgets and modern computers, such studies can be placed in the hands of hobbyists.

So, did anybody do a study on vocal quality of the perfect Shama? probably yes, but I do not know. It would interest me greatly. Then it would be a great way to selectively breed for good vocals (audible or non audible) - the ones that will attract hordes of females and keep other males miles away...... trembling in fear ;-)
Yes, to know the type of vocals that communicate strength and vigor would be very helpful......

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