Peafowl crest feathers resonate with frequencies used for tail-rattling behavior
Date:November 28, 2018
Indian peafowl crests resonate efficiently and specifically to the same vibration frequencies used in peacock social displays, according to a paper published November 28, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Suzanne Amador Kane from Haverford College, USA, and colleagues.
Both sexes of the Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) grow a large crest. While many previous studies have focused on the crest as a potential visual signal, this is the first study to focus on crest feathers' potential to sense motion and vibration. The authors used seven male and eight female crests in the lab for their investigations. They microscopically analyzed the crests and confirmed the presence of filoplumes -- specialized small feathers appearing across all types of bird feathers and functioning as mechanosensors. The authors then conducted a series of experiments to determine the crests' range of responsiveness to vibration and force. They exposed the crests to simulated displays of wing-shaking, performed by males, and audio recordings of train/tail-rattling, performed by both males and females in social and sexual contexts.