The governing honeyel, an endangered Australian bird, is losing its ability to sing, a sign that it could be close to extinction, a group of scientists warned Wednesday (17,03,2021).
The rapid decline of this songbird means that younger specimens will not be able to learn mating calls if adults disappear, according to researchers at the National University of Australia.
The male regent honeyel has a rich song and a complex variety of shades in the most populated habitats, although it is simplified elsewhere, scientists say in a study published by the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Lead author Ross Crates says these findings are a «sign that the governing honeyel is on the brink of extinction,» because losing the ability to sing reduces the chances of mating.
«This could aggravate the decline of the honeycomb population as we know that a sexy song increases the chances of playing songbirds,» he added.
Scientists found 18 regent honeyelers, about 12% of the total male population, who can only reproduce the sounds of other species but not their own.
«This lack of ability to communicate with its own species is unprecedented in the animal world,» studio co-author Dejan Stojanovic said.
«We can assume that regent honeyels are so rare that some young males have not had an adult to teach them,» Stojanovic added.
This bird, which has white, black and yellow feathers, was formerly found in eastern Australia but is now basically confined to eucalyptus forests in the southeast of the country. Scientists believe that only a few hundred regent honeyelers are released.
The study also found that regent honeyelers born in captivity have different songs that can reduce their appeal to free birds. Scientists now hope to teach birds in captivity to sing like their fellowmen in freedom, with the help of recordings.