As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Peacocks' tails make noises too low for humans to hear

The tails of peacocks aren't just pretty to look at. They also make infrasound that humans can't hear

Presented by
Michael Marshall

Peacock tails are one of the most beautiful sights in the animal kingdom. But they're not just pretty to look at. The birds also use their huge tails to make a loud noise – which humans are utterly incapable of hearing.

When a peacock shakes his tail, it produces a sound that is so low-pitched, humans can't hear it. That's despite the noise being about as loud as a car going past a few metres away.

Angela Freeman and James Hare of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada have shown that peacocks can make these "infrasound" noises with their tails. The birds can also sense and respond to the noise.

"Humans don't often think about infrasound as a potential signal, because we don't perceive it," says Freeman. "I think it's more common than we think."

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