Anthochaera phrygia is one of the rarest birds in the world, and experts fear it will soon become extinct, because they have forgotten how to sing.
These linked birds be sighted by the hundreds across southeastern Australia, but today the species is in danger of extinction, with only 300 specimens estimated worldwide. These birds were also known for the complexity of their mating songs, but as their numbers began to decline, ornithologists began to notice that this complexity decreased, to the point where males no longer sang as was typical. Today, there is ample evidence that regent honey eaters have forgotten how to sing, which could lead to the extinction of the entire species.
Australian ornithologists had noted that these male birds mimicked the songs of other bird species, but believed it was a form of mimicry to avoid being attacked by larger birds. However, a recent study showed that this is not the case “Poor birds do not have the opportunity to learn what they should sing”,
These birds indeed learn their songs as adults of their species, just as human children learn to speak, but because they are so “rarefied” in nature, many males cannot hear the “right” songs, so they begin to adopt the melodies. of other bird species, but these songs do not attract females of their own species, so their chances of reproducing diminish.
It is truly a singular phenomenon, a strange twist of fate, that of not being able to sing anymore and therefore not being able to court and procreate, thus giving continuity to the species. This is the first time I have ever heard of an animal in danger of extinction, not because of the climate or the hand of man, but because it is unable to imitate the sounds of other birds and therefore to interact with the opposite sex. We have learnt that you don’t just conquer with a flower, a poem or a romantic gesture but also by singing. Indeed, a melody, however it is produced, manages to attract and excite. The rest follows.