Attenborough’s Marvel of Track | About | Nature


♪♪ ATTENBOROUGH: I’ve recorded many songs of the pure world over time.

Simply take heed to this.

And I’ve discovered that there’s, maybe surprisingly, no scientific definition of tune.

[ Bird singing ] And there are some songs that it is unattainable for me to think about life with out.

However this avian choir doesn’t sing for us.

What we hear just isn’t what the hen hears.

Birds dwell on a special timescale, they usually can hear particulars of their tune which can be unattainable for us to listen to.

It was the flexibility to take recorded sound after which flip it into a visible image that enabled us to research that sound and reveal its full complexity.

DALZIELL: It is extraordinarily thrilling.

And it actually forces us to rethink what we consider as tune.

KREBS: Our understanding of tune is regularly growing.

ATTENBOROUGH: How thrilling it’s to think about the discoveries which can be about to be made.

[ Bird singing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Birds singing ] [ Singing continues ] ATTENBOROUGH: On a transparent spring morning like this, the daybreak refrain is at its peak.

[ Singing continues ] There are absolutely few extra enchanting pure soundscapes than this.

[ Singing continues ] However this avian choir doesn’t sing for us.

[ Singing continues ] These are songs of seduction… and weapons of battle.

Males are defending territories and attracting mates.

[ Birds singing ] Singing is harmful.

[ Singing continues ] It reveals the hen’s location to predators.

However it additionally affords an enormous reward — the possibility to draw a feminine and cross on genes to the following technology.

That, Charles Darwin mentioned, is why tune developed.

[ Singing continues ] It was an instance of what he known as sexual choice.

[ Singing continues ] However at present, new discoveries are remodeling these long-held concepts.

For this program, I’ve chosen a few of my favourite recordings from the pure world which have revolutionized our understanding of tune.

♪♪ There are seven recordings of it which have specific curiosity for me.

Some are pretty, some are stunning, and one nearly broke my coronary heart.

However all of them broke new floor.

[ Birds singing ] I’ve recorded many sounds of the pure world over time, and I’ve learnt that there’s, maybe surprisingly, no scientific definition of tune.

♪♪ We have a tendency to make use of the phrase to explain sounds that appear, to our ears, stunning.

[ Birds singing ] It’s, in reality, a considerably whimsical label.

However it has been connected to some of nature’s biggest marvels.

Simply take heed to this.

[ Whales singing ] ♪♪ [ Singing continues ] ♪♪ Every of my seven chosen songs was recorded in my lifetime.

[ Bird singing ] The oldest was made once I was 5, the newest, only a few years in the past.

[ Birds singing ] None is nearer to my coronary heart than the primary one, which I made again in 1960.

[ Laughs ] [ Indris singing ] ♪♪ Recording audio within the subject in distant elements of the world was nearly remarkable.

There was definitely no cash within the BBC price range for a sound recordist.

However I did handle to get maintain of a really uncommon factor certainly, a battery-driven transportable tape recorder, in order that I might document sounds myself.

♪♪ It was a cumbersome piece of equipment, however cutting-edge on the time, and I used to be decided to make use of it to document a singer that nobody had ever recorded earlier than — Madagascar’s largest lemur, the indri.

[ Birds chirping ] [ Indris singing ] This noise was no hen name.

I had by no means heard something prefer it earlier than.

It should be the voice of the indris.

[ Singing continues ] Utilizing my new tools, I made the first-ever audio recording of the indri.

[ Singing continues ] However might we additionally seize them on digicam, as effectively?

The tune was so loud that it appeared unattainable that the animals could possibly be extra than 20 or 30 yards away.

However the place had been they?

[ Singing continues ] Till now, nobody had even managed to {photograph} a dwelling one.

not to mention movie it.

Infuriatingly, the bush was so thick that I might see no signal of them no matter.

[ Singing continues ] So, the query was, how might we get shut sufficient to get a transparent view of them with out scary them?

Effectively, I believed, ‘What about doing it the opposite approach round and making an attempt to steer them to get nearer to us by enjoying their calls?’

[ Birds chirping ] [ Indris singing ] They usually did precisely what I hoped they might do.

[ Indris singing ] They known as in return, got here down near us, stared at us, nonetheless calling.

[ Singing continues ] I used to be thrilled.

We had recorded their tune filmed them singing.

[ Singing continues ] However why had this trick labored?

[ Singing continues ] Effectively, as a result of they thought that the tune I used to be enjoying meant a competitor was shut by.

And their response was to sing.

[ Indris singing ] And this instructed one factor — there are such issues as battle songs… [ Singing continues ] …songs that say, ‘Get out, that is my territory.’

[ Singing continues ] ♪♪ It gave the impression to be a transparent instance of Darwin’s principle of sexual choice — a male singing to defend his breeding patch.

However this was nonetheless simply guesswork.

We suspected that songs could possibly be weapons of battle.

However it was the following recording that proved it.

♪♪ [ Great tit singing ] [ Great tit singing ] That is the tune of a male nice tit, a name, a quite simple tune.

[ Singing continues ] It was recorded by a scientist who’s been a pioneer in understanding animal tune — Professor John Krebs.

He was the one who proved for the primary time precisely why my playback trick in Madagascar had labored.

♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] Spring 1975.

[ Chirping continues ] Again then, John was a younger lecturer on the College of Oxford, researching the birds in woodland simply exterior town.

First he plotted the territories of all of the pairs of nice tits.

Subsequent, he recorded the songs of the males.

[ Great tit singing ] Feminine nice tits don’t sing.

KREBS: Then, on a specific morning in February, I got here out with mist nets to catch the birds, and I caught all of the pairs of birds that had been within the wooden.

ATTENBOROUGH: Now there have been no nice tits, simply empty nice tit territories.

In some, John changed the nice tits with loud audio system that performed the sounds of the birds that he’d quickly eliminated.

[ Great tit singing ] If the tune was a ‘maintain out’ sign, then new nice tits would keep away from these patches.

[ Singing continues ] Different territories had been left silent.

No audio system, no nice tit tune.

New nice tits ought to notice these areas had been empty and accessible and settle there rapidly.

[ Great tit singing ] However how would John know that it was attributable to an ideal tit tune that newcomers had been deterred?

Maybe any sound would have had the identical impact.

So in some territories he performed a recording of a tin whistle.

[ Tin whistle playing ] He might have chosen something, so long as it sounded nothing like an ideal tit.

KREBS: After which I watched to see what occurred.

And new birds got here into the wooden as a result of that is a major breeding space, so birds love to come back right here to breed.

♪♪ ATTENBOROUGH: John found that the primary territories that had been taken had been the silent territories and those with the tin whistle.

Crucially, the territories during which the nice tit tune was performed remained empty of latest nice tits.

KREBS: By wanting on the element of that sample of settling, I used to be in a position to present, experimentally, that tune an efficient ‘maintain out’ sign.

[ Great tit singing ] ATTENBOROUGH: Professor Krebs’ predictions had been precisely proper.

The tune was a ‘maintain out’ sign to different nice tits.

[ Great tit singing ] For the very first time, there was scientific proof that tune was getting used to intimidate rivals, simply as I had seen with the indris in Madagascar within the ’60s.

How astonishing that it was solely in 1975 that this was proved for the primary time.

The tune of the nice tit had made historical past.

♪♪ [ Great tit singing ] [ Birds singing ] Open a window in spring, and these are the singers that serenade us… [ Singing continues ] …songbirds.

They make up about half of the ten,000 species of birds on this planet.

5 of my seven songs are sung by them.

[ Singing continues ] Birds have essentially the most superior vocal organs in your complete pure world.

We now have our voice field on the high of our windpipe.

However their equal is on the base of theirs.

It is an organ known as a syrinx.

They’re the one creatures on Earth to have one in every of these.

And the syrinx of the songbird is essentially the most complicated of all of them.

As breath passes by it, muscular tissues contract and vibrate, creating the sounds we name tune.

It could possibly produce totally different notes from the left and the suitable sides concurrently.

[ Bird singing ] It is like having two voice containers that may function on the similar time.

[ Birds singing ] So that is how songbirds can carry out such unparalleled feats of vocal gymnastics.

However figuring out why they do, is way extra complicated.

[ Singing continues ] Every word lasts only a tiny second after which disappears.

[ Singing continues ] That presents anybody who needs to check it with an issue.

[ Birds singing ] However there are two comparatively current innovations which have helped us to seize songs.

It was with a gun mic like this — inside its windshield — that John Krebs caught the fleeting sound of the nice tit.

However it was the flexibility to take that recorded sound after which flip it into a visible image that enabled us to research that sound and reveal its full complexity.

[ Great tit singing ] That is an animation of the male nice tit’s tune, generated by a machine known as a spectrograph.

[ Great tit singing ] It modifications the tune into a picture that is doable to learn.

Slowed down, we are able to see that the nice tit’s tune is comparatively easy.

[ Great tit singing ] It is composed of two notes, one excessive and one low, repeated.

[ Great tit singing ] What we hear could be very related to what we are able to see on the spectrograph.

However evaluate that to the tune of the male wren.

[ Wren singing ] What we hear just isn’t what the hen hears.

Birds dwell on a special timescale, at a special tempo from us.

They usually can hear particulars of their tune which can be unattainable for us to listen to.

It is solely after we use a spectrogram that these particulars are revealed.

A trill… [ Trill plays ] …a connecting word… [ Note plays ] …one other trill… [ Trill plays ] …after which a speedy burst of trills on the finish.

[ Trills playing ] Now we are able to see that there are, maybe, 100 notes or extra in a tune that will final only some seconds.

[ Wren singing ] [ Bird singing ] [ Singing continues ] What the spectrograms present are these songs are way more difficult and sophisticated than we might probably have imagined.

However why complicate issues so?

The calls of the indri and the nice tit work completely effectively.

The reply, after all, is intercourse.

♪♪ [ Birds singing ] ♪♪ That’s the reason why so many birds have such complicated mating songs.

[ Singing continues ] Females appear to favor them.

The extra intricate and detailed the tune is, the higher the male’s probabilities.

[ Singing continues ] And my third tune helps to clarify why.

♪♪ [ Nightingale singing ] It is a recording of a nightingale that’s my subsequent chosen tune.

[ Nightingale singing ] This can be a male singing for a mate.

[ Singing continues ] Simply as with the nice tit, the females don’t sing.

However they’re those the males are singing for.

So, why do they like extra complicated songs?

[ Nightingale singing ] ♪♪ It is a query that has puzzled scientists for hundreds of years.

♪♪ Charles Darwin’s reply was that the females have an aesthetic sense.

In spite of everything, human beings recognize magnificence.

Why should not different animals achieve this, too?

♪♪ However the query Darwin did not reply was, ought to the females have an aesthetic sense?

Right here on the streets of Berlin, we’d simply discover the reply.

[ Birds singing ] Spring attracts over 2,000 nightingales to this metropolis every year.

They flock to Berlin as a result of it is crammed with inexperienced area, a lot of which has been left untamed.

And it is these wild locations that they love.

[ Nightingales singing ] In one in every of its hottest parks — a male nightingale.

[ Nightingale singing ] He, like the opposite males, arrived from Africa a couple of weeks in the past and has spent his time singing to defend a breeding patch.

[ Nightingale singing ] However tonight, when the lights go out, he’ll change his tune… as a result of the females have arrived.

[ Nightingale singing ] Nightingales migrate at evening.

And when the females fly in beneath cowl of darkish, they’re met with songs of seduction.

[ Nightingales singing ] Dr. Conny Landgraf made our recording of the nightingale’s tune.

[ Nightingale singing ] LANDGRAF: So, proper now there’s one male.

No. There’s a second male So, it is already two males in a vocal contest.

[ Singing continues ] What the females do is that they don’t take the primary male that comes their approach, however they prospect and examine totally different male territories.

And this is sort of a speed-dating that’s really happening in the midst of the evening.

[ Singing continues ] ATTENBOROUGH: Every male sings his coronary heart out.

And the females pay attention.

[ Ding! ] Time’s up.

What does the following potential mate sound like?

[ Ding! ] Time’s up once more.

Does the following one have a greater tune?

[ Nightingale singing ] [ Ding! ] [ Nightingale singing ] [ Ding! ] Nightingales have extraordinarily giant tune repertoires, as much as 250 songs.

LANDGRAF: And likewise they’re able to produce actually difficult syllables and phrases, considering of trill or buzz parts.

So, these are very quick, repeated single notes.

So, that is outstanding.

ATTENBOROUGH: The extra complicated his tune, the extra stunning it appears to the feminine.

However why?

Does the feminine have an aesthetic sense, as Darwin instructed?

Conny and her crew arrange an experiment to seek out out.

First, they recorded males singing at the start of spring.

Then they arrange cameras to document nightingale nests later within the season.

♪♪ Male nightingales play an important function in feeding chicks.

♪♪ [ Nightingale singing ] LANDGRAF: What we discovered in the long run was that there was certainly a really robust correlation between the tune and feeding charges on the nest.

So, it is like a promise that the males give to the females to be good fathers.

So, for instance, a male could possibly be saying, ‘Hey, there. I am a wholesome, robust man.

‘I do know this space and all of the greatest feeding locations very effectively, so come quiet down and mate with me.’

[ Nightingale singing ] ATTENBOROUGH: Females, Darwin mentioned, selected the males with essentially the most stunning songs.

And my third recording has demonstrated why — higher singers are higher fathers.

[ Nightingale singing ] Track is usually a promise of devoted parenthood.

[ Nightingales singing ] ♪♪ There are some songs that it is unattainable for me to think about life with out… [ Bird singing ] …songs that accompany our each day lives.

It is one of the attribute sounds and, to my ears, one of the pleasant of the English winter — the tune of the robin.

[ Robins singing ] These are the songs that Charles Darwin would have listened to as a boy.

And far of our analysis into tune has centered on British species.

Certainly, for a lot of the final century, we thought birdsong originated right here, in northern latitudes.

[ Birds singing ] However what if Darwin had been raised on the opposite facet of the world?

Would his theories about tune have been totally different?

[ Birds singing ] The forests of Australia.

[ Singing continues ] ♪♪ Right here, scientists are within the course of of adjusting many of our outdated concepts about tune.

[ Singing continues ] They’ve discovered fossil and DNA proof of early songbirds which present that actually, is the place tune started.

[ Birds singing ] It was right here in Australia that the ancestors of all songbirds first developed.

[ Birds singing ] ♪♪ Track quantity 4 is from one of many authentic songbird’s most outstanding descendants.

And it is one which amazes me each time I hear it.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] It was recorded within the forests simply exterior Melbourne.

And was the primary time that wild birdsong had ever been broadcast in Australia.

[ Superb lyrebirds singing ] The tune of the lyrebird, for my part, is among the most complicated and delightful in the entire of the pure world.

And what offers it its complexity, is the expertise that the lyrebird has for mimicry.

Crimson parrot.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] The kookaburra.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] The descendants of that lyrebird, I am comfortable to say, are nonetheless singing in these forests.

And I’ve been fortunate sufficient to take heed to one in every of them myself.

It was the Nineteen Nineties when the BBC collection ‘Lifetime of Birds’ took me to Australia.

♪♪ I wished to movie a lyrebird who was essentially the most astounding mimic.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] To influence females to come back shut and admire his plumes, he sings essentially the most complicated tune he can handle, and he does that by copying the songs of all the opposite birds he hears round him, such because the kookaburra.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] He can imitate the calls of not less than 20 totally different species.

[ Singing continues ] He additionally, in his try to out-sing his rivals, incorporates different sounds that he hears within the forest.

[ Superb lyrebird mimicking clicking ] That was a digicam shutter.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] [ Superb lyrebird mimicking clicking ] And once more.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] [ Superb lyrebird mimicking clicking ] And now a digicam with a motor drive.

[ Superb lyrebird mimicking clicking, whirring ] [ Superb lyrebird singing rhythmically ] And that is a automotive alarm.

[ Singing continues ] And now the sounds of foresters and their chainsaws working close by.

[ Superb lyrebird mimicking buzzing, clacking ] Since this outstanding clip was broadcast, hundreds of thousands of individuals have watched it on-line.

However scientists have found much more about lyrebird tune since that recording was made.

That exact hen was accustomed to the presence of human beings close by.

However a lot wilder birds produce one thing much more fascinating.

♪♪ Dawn, Sherbrooke Forest at present.

[ Birds singing ] One voice within the daybreak refrain is louder than every other — the male lyrebird.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] ♪♪ It is the breeding season, they usually’re busy making an attempt to draw mates.

♪♪ [ Superb lyrebird singing ] Clearing undergrowth from the forest ground creates an enviornment for his mating show.

[ Singing continues ] As soon as the stage is ready, the present can start.

[ Singing continues ] It is not like every other within the pure world.

[ Singing continues ] Since I heard this tune, scientists have analyzed it and damaged it down into elements.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] Track A comes first.

[ Singing continues ] Now, Track B, a loud, low shriek which alternates with Track C, a quiet, very mushy clicking sound.

[ Singing continues ] A feminine arrives.

♪♪ However, no, she loses curiosity.

♪♪ What he does subsequent will want to be much more spectacular.

[ Birds singing ] ♪♪ Few have analyzed the grand finale of the male lyrebird tune extra intensively than Dr. Anastasia Dalziell.

She and her crew had been the first ones to movie it correctly.

DALZIELL: We thought, ‘Nobody’s gonna imagine us till we have really filmed it.’

It is actually not like something else that has been described beforehand in birds or every other animals.

♪♪ ATTENBOROUGH: It was by finding out the recordings from their distant digicam that the crew had been in a position to perceive the true secret of the male lyrebird tune.

And it’s this footage, along with our personal, that allows us to indicate this outstanding habits on tv for the primary time.

Having sung Track A, B and C — and been rejected — the male now begins Track D.

DALZIELL: So, this ultimate tune — it is a sound of a flock of small birds… [ Superb lyrebird singing ] …mobbing reacting to a stationary or a hidden predator like a snake.

And this was completely weird.

ATTENBOROUGH: So, why is he imitating a flock of birds?

[ Singing continues ] Effectively, a predator means hazard, so on the sound of an alarm name, the feminine freezes.

[ Singing continues ] The forest is now not a secure place.

[ Singing continues ] Now the male takes benefit of her panic.

He jumps on high of her to mate.

♪♪ It is arduous for us to see her beneath his feathers.

And it is arduous for her to see out from beneath them.

He’s doing every part he can to disorientate and confuse her.

♪♪ DALZIELL: The male is definitely telling her an enormous fib — ‘Do not go away me as a result of out there there is a hidden predator that you have not seen.’

To place it one other approach, it is like saying, ‘Child, it is harmful exterior.

Come again right here with me, the place it is good and secure.’

♪♪ ATTENBOROUGH: The lyrebird is, actually, a hen that tells lies.

His tune is an acoustic phantasm.

To date, scientists had thought that tune was an trustworthy sign from the male.

However it appears tune can be manipulative and false.

♪♪ [ Birds singing ] Not distant, within the Blue Mountains close to Sydney, scientist Victoria Austin is finding out the feminine lyrebird.

♪♪ What she’s listening for is one thing only a few individuals have heard.

AUSTIN: So, what I am doing now is simply getting ready my recorder as a result of we’re about to go to a nest and we’re hoping to give you the option to document the feminine lyrebird that resides in that space.

ATTENBOROUGH: The feminine lyrebird is the other of her flashy mate.

She’s secretive.

When she seen, she’s typically mistaken for a juvenile male.

To most individuals, she’s invisible.

However Victoria is aware of learn how to discover her.

This outdated nest suggests that she could also be close by.

And there she is.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] This hardly ever heard sound is her whistle tune.

[ Singing continues ] In Darwin’s principle of sexual choice, males sing to draw females and females drive the evolution of tune by preferring ever extra complicated songs.

The females themselves don’t sing.

But right here we’re listening to a feminine lyrebird singing.

[ Singing continues ] So, what’s the operate of her tune?

[ Singing continues ] Effectively, the feminine raises her chicks alone.

The male performs no half.

So it is extraordinarily essential for her to take care of her territory and the meals inside it.

She makes use of tune to let everybody know that it is her patch.

[ Singing continues ] And Victoria can be researching whether or not tune helps her in different methods.

In the previous few years, she’s been recording their songs throughout the Blue Mountains.

♪♪ That is one in every of them — a feminine mimicking a goshawk.

[ Superb lyrebird mimicking goshawk ] AUSTIN: It’s extremely correct.

When you had been play this name alongside an precise goshawk, it will be very troublesome to inform the distinction, in the event you had been ready to inform the distinction in any respect.

ATTENBOROUGH: So, what’s the function of this excellent impersonation?

She is utilizing it to deceive predators into considering she’s extra harmful than she really is.

♪♪ She is simply as gifted because the extra well-known male.

[ Superb lyrebird singing ] AUSTIN: So, the largest function of what we’re doing working with these feminine lyrebirds is to dispel this long-held fantasy that solely lately was proven to not be true, and that’s the concept that feminine birds do not sing or that it’s totally uncommon.

And that is simply merely not the case.

[ Birds singing ] ATTENBOROUGH: This absolutely challenges Darwin’s principle… as does my subsequent, revolutionary tune.

♪♪ [ Superb fairy-wren singing ] My fifth tune was additionally recorded in Australia.

It, too, just like the tune of the feminine lyrebird, has hardly ever been heard.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] It is essential as a result of its existence modifications our concept of what tune really is.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] This can be a pretty widespread Australian hen known as a fairy-wren.

[ Singing continues ] We filmed these birds for a BBC collection again within the Nineteen Nineties.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] ♪♪ We went there to movie it as a result of it is extraordinarily promiscuous.

Each the female and male will mate with many various companions.

However what few individuals realized on the time — and I definitely did not — was that it is not simply the male that sings.

♪♪ The feminine does, too.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] ♪♪ That is Canberra Botanical Gardens.

♪♪ Professor Naomi Langmore was the scientist who made our fairy-wren recording.

She was one of many first to comprehend the importance of feminine tune.

[ Birds singing ] A male fairy-wren with superb iridescent blue and putting black plumage.

Slightly troublesome to overlook.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] So, the place is the feminine?

Effectively, not on the high of a perch just like the male, however as an alternative right here, hiding within the bushes.

♪♪ She is, comparatively, reasonably uninteresting — a colorless brown.

LANGMORE: As a result of females are sometimes much less flashy and crowd pleasing than males, it’s totally simple to overlook feminine tune.

[ Superb fairy-wren singing ] ATTENBOROUGH: However sing she does.

[ Singing continues ] Simply as male tune is used in competitors with different males, feminine tune appears to be in competitors with different females.

However why did not we hear her prior to now?

Is it actually simply because she is much less noticeable than the male?

LANGMORE: Within the historical past of the research of birdsong, most analysis was completed within the northern hemisphere, in Europe and North America, and in these areas, feminine tune is relatively uncommon.

And so researchers working in these areas generalized from what they had been observing of their native birds and assumed that male tune was the norm all through the world.

ATTENBOROUGH: A male-biased view of birdsong had, to an extent, deafened us to feminine tune.

KREBS: So, once I was doing my analysis, it was mainly assumed that it is the male that sings and the feminine that does not.

Perhaps that is as a result of most of the scientists had been males who had been finding out birdsong.

LANGMORE: However now there is a new technology of feminine scientists coming by, finding out birdsong all around the globe, and discovering that truly feminine tune is quite common and happens in additional species than not.

ATTENBOROUGH: And it is solely now that they are correctly being heard.

Naomi and her colleagues have found that in 64% of all songbird species, females sing.

and that, within the distant previous, the ancestors of all songbirds would have had each male feminine singers.

♪♪ When birdsong started, maybe all feminine birds sang.

[ Birds singing ] So, why do not all feminine birds sing at present?

The reply is migration.

Male migrants, just like the nightingale, arrive of their breeding grounds earlier than the feminine.

They arrange and defend the breeding territories, so the females needn’t sing.

♪♪ In species that do not migrate, just like the lyrebird and the fairy-wren, then typically the females may have their very own territory [ Bird singing ] And they’re going to sing to defend it.

[ Birds singing ] This feminine tune challenges the way in which scientists have thought of sexual choice for the final hundred years.

DALZIELL: This current discovery is a paradigm shift.

It is extraordinarily thrilling.

And it actually forces us once more to rethink what we consider as birdsong.

[ Birds singing ] LANGMORE: Birdsong was elementary to the formulation of Darwin’s principle of sexual choice.

And the invention that females sing as effectively makes us problem that principle.

ATTENBOROUGH: As a result of our notion of birdsong has been biased in direction of the northern hemisphere, we have now been unaware of a number of the most thrilling birdsongs on the planet.

However that view is altering.

♪♪ KREBS: Our understanding of tune is regularly growing, and on a regular basis we’re studying new issues.

It is a thriller that wants actual analysis to unravel it.

And we’re nonetheless studying.

♪♪ ATTENBOROUGH: How thrilling it’s to think about the discoveries which can be about to be made about birdsong.

♪♪ [ Birds singing ] ♪♪ This subsequent groundbreaking recording reminds us simply how thrilling these new discoveries could possibly be… ♪♪ …as a result of it revealed to us a completely totally different world of tune.

♪♪ Few animal songs are extra stunning than those which can be recorded on this disc.

And but, had it not been for current technological advances, we’d by no means have identified that such songs existed.

♪♪ The waters off the coast of Bermuda.

U.S. Navy engineers are utilizing underwater microphones, known as hydrophones, to pay attention for enemy submarines.

That is what they choose up.

[ Low humming ] It isn’t a submarine or, certainly, any type of artificial noise.

[ Humming continues ] I will at all times bear in mind the primary time I heard these songs.

It introduced again to my thoughts the tales of sailors within the outdated crusing ship days, out at sea of their bunks, listening to these fantastic, eerie sounds resonating by the ship.

It did not come, after all, from a mermaid, however one thing maybe much more extraordinary — a huge creature, weighing many tons — a whale.

[ Humpback whale singing ] Nearly unbelievably, this was the primary time that anybody had ever recognized the sound of the whale.

When biologist Dr. Roger Payne heard it, he was thrilled.

PAYNE: It was again in 1967, about, that I met a fellow named Frank Watlington, who grew to become an ideal good friend.

And he performed a sound to me of humpback whales.

[ Humpback whale singing ] It was essentially the most stunning factor I had ever heard from nature.

[ Singing continues ] The primary time I ever went swimming with a whale that was singing, it was an unbelievable expertise.

It is utterly shattering.

[ Humpback whale singing ] It seems like, while you get shut to 1, that one thing has put its palms in your chest and is shaking you till your tooth rattle.

My first thought was, ‘I’m wondering if I can stand this.

I’m wondering if that is really gonna kill me in some way.’

[ Humpback whales singing ] ATTENBOROUGH: The query was, would we name these sounds ‘songs’? Some had been quick, like hen calls, however others had been longer, some as much as half an hour.

[ Humpback whale singing ] Sped up, that is what they seemed like.

[ Rapid, high-pitched singing ] They seemed like birdsong.

[ Singing continues ] Roger known as them songs.

Within the late Nineteen Seventies, I, too, went swimming with humpback whales.

[ Humpback whale singing ] I bear in mind seeing this creature beneath me after which listening to its tune.

[ Singing continues ] It was thought they sing for a similar purpose as birds — males singing to rivals and potential mates.

However nobody has ever seen a feminine listening.

[ Singing continues ] In fact, nobody actually is aware of why whales sing.

[ Singing continues ] However one factor is for certain — the sound of their tune saved them from us.

[ Singing continues ] In 1970, Roger launched an album known as ‘Songs of the Humpback Whale.’

On the time, we had been killing whales, primarily for his or her oil, for hundreds of years.

[ Harpoon gun fires ] We had been very shut to exterminating them out of sheer greed.

Then we heard their tune.

[ Humpback whale singing ] PAYNE: Entire bunches of individuals in a number of international locations started making organizations to save lots of the whales, and the Save the Whales motion was born.

And in some ways, that was form of the start of the conservation motion.

[ Singing continues ] ATTENBOROUGH: The conscience of the world was awoken by this tune of the whale.

We heard it simply in time to save lots of them.

[ Singing continues ] However for my subsequent and ultimate singer, there was no such reprieve.

[ Kaua’i ‘o’o singing ] There are few songs extra haunting than this.

[ Kaua’i ‘o’o singing ] It is a male Hawaiian ‘o’o hen calling for a mate.

[ Singing continues ] However is he singing into silence?

[ Singing continues ] Habitat destruction and the introduction of invasive species have decimated many Hawaiian songbirds, together with the ‘o’o.

It could be that by the point this recording was made there have been no females left alive.

It is the sound of a male singing for a mate who now not exists.

The ‘o’o has since been declared extinct.

[ Kaua’i ‘o’o singing ] He was the final of a complete hen household discovered nowhere else on Earth, now gone.

[ Singing continues ] There isn’t any extra dramatic reminder of this loss than this sound.

[ Singing continues ] ♪♪ And what number of extra songs have we misplaced in different elements of the planet?

Right here in Britain, it is estimated that 38 million birds have disappeared from our skies within the final 60 years, one in 5, gone.

♪♪ Local weather change, habitat deterioration, and the ensuing lower in meals and different assets are considered the primary components behind this catastrophic decline.

It is now as much as us to resolve what number of extra songs we are going to permit to fade into silence.

[ Birds singing ] ♪♪ These songs enrich our lives, too.

They’re absolutely amongst the loveliest within the universe, and with out them our lives would actually be impoverished.

[ Singing continues ] And what’s misplaced when the songs fall silent is extra than simply a fascinating operatic backdrop to our personal lives — as a result of, for the creatures that sing them, songs are way over that.

They’re a weapon of battle, a serenade, a promise of parenthood, a daring deceit, or maybe one thing even extra astonishing that we’re but to find… [ Animals singing ] …every one a fabulous instance of the spectacular survival methods that animals have developed so as to keep alive.

[ Humpback whale singing ] That’s the reason I will by no means stop to marvel on the stunning sounds we name tune.

♪♪ [ Bird singing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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