The male white bellbird can hit an incredibly painful 125 decibels—the world’s loudest bird call.
- The world’s loudest bird has been confirmed to be the male white bellbird—not the screaming piha as previously thought.
- Although the male white bellbird usually sings at around 116 decibels (dB), when one is wooing a potential mate, they can get as loud as 125 dB—even when the female is in close proximity to it.
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If you wanted to weaponize sound, where would you start looking? You might be surprised to discover that the world’s most painfully loud bird—capable of emitting a deafening song— lives deep within the Amazon rainforest.
In fact, males belonging to the white bellbird family sing so loud that comparable to a jet engine during takeoff.
Males usually communicate at around 116 decibels (dB) but are able to hit up to 125 dB when singing to a potential mate, reports Discover magazine.
What’s really interesting about this particular birdsong is that the animals don’t only use it when they need to cover great distances—they use it even when other birds they’re communicating with are mere feet away.
According to a study published in Current Biology, the screaming piha was thought to be the loudest bird on the planet before researchers and study authors, Jeffrey Podos and Mario Cohn-Haft, trekked through the Amazon to record the bellbird. They were able to determine that the bellbird actually superseded the piha by at least 9 dB.
For comparison, consider this: city traffic sits at around 85 dB and the level at which you risk losing your hearing if you’re continuously exposed to a particular sound is somewhere between 80-90 dB. The sound of chainsaw from three feet away sits at 110 dB and having heavy machinery, like a pneumatic chipper right at your ear, is 120 dB.
All of that is still not as loud as the screech that comes from the relatively small male bellbird, who stands around a foot tall and weighs about half a pound.
Since 125 dB is the point at which sound becomes incredibly painful, we’re not sure what female bellbirds find attractive about a male screaming at them. The heart wants what the heart wants, we guess.
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