Broadbills produce klaxon-like song with their wings

There are just four species of broadbill in Africa, three of which are in the genus Smithornis. Unlike many other species in the family Eurylaimidae, Smithornis lack bright coloration, but alert us to their presence with the loud mechanical sound they produce during their elliptical flight display. With Chris Clark (UCR) and Rick Prum (Yale), we explored the mechanism that produces the sound, using a combination of high-speed video, audio analyses, wind tunnel experiments, and feather manipulations. We are also exploring geographical variation in the genus and the effect of morphological differences on sound features. Some of this work has been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology:

Clark, C. J.*, Kirschel, A. N. G.*, Hadjioannou, L., and Prum, R. O. 2016. Smithornis broadbills produce loud wing song by aerolastic flutter of primary wing feathers. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 1069-1075

* Co-corresponding authors

The study was also featured by the New York Times, Science magazine, the Audubon Society, and the British Ornithologists' Union:

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