Hummingbird hovering

The Language of the Birds: Hummingbird Vocalisations Eight Times Slower Than Normal Speed

Does our human-based perception of events in time blind us to certain aspects of ‘reality’? Hummingbirds are notorious for the speed at which they flap their wings (up to 80 times a second), but as the video below shows, when their behaviour is slowed down (in this case, eight times slower than normal speed) other aspects become apparent – in this case, their high-pitched twittering suddenly sounds a whole lot more like a language of some kind.

A few clips at the beginning let us hear “normal” vocalizations of hummingbirds as they squabble at the feeder for last-minute feeding rights at dusk… The video was recorded in 848×480 resolution at 240fps using a GoPro Hero3+ Black edition , then slowed down to about 30fps for playback using GoPro’s Studio software. The audio was slowed down roughly the same amount, and since no audio “stretch” effect was used, the pitch and playback are simply lower and slower. The reverb effect is naturally produced by the acoustically reflective hard surfaces around the feeder, and are much longer and more more noticeable than in real time.

We already know that slowing down video of an intelligent human makes them sound like a stoner – but in the case of hummingbirds, slowing things down tends to make them seem a whole lot more intelligent.

Coincidentally yesterday I was listening to the song of an Australian magpie and was struck by how much it sounds like intelligent communication. Are birds talking all around us and we’re simply deaf to it all?

Editor
  1. Of Course They’re “Talking”, Communicating, With Each Other.
    I’ve never understood that humans question that other creatures communicate, “talk”, with each other. They even do it across species as we do with other species, dogs, cats, horses, etc, and, in fact, even with each other despite not always understanding each other’s languages.

    Just because we god-like (*snark) humans don’t understand what the hummingbirds, whales, etc, are saying doesn’t mean they aren’t “talking”to each other. In fact,I kind of thought we’d basically settled that decades ago, at least it was for me, as I can recall watching as a kid Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler on Wild Kingdom relate various animals communicating, i.e. “talking”, with each other. Not to mention Sir David Attenborough’s many decades of sensitive understanding of the planet’s other creatures and discussing this and that animal’s communicating with each other.

    It’s easy to see every day other animals “talking” with each other. I’ve often wondered, because cats, dogs, etc, don’t understand human languages if they wonder “gee, are humans actually talking to each other when they make those funny sounds?” And of course we are. Just as they are in their lives.

    It works both ways, folks.

  2. Murder
    I would have to say emphatically yes! They are communicating at a level we humans cannot normally perceive, I talk to animals and other assorted life forms on this planet; Plants, Insects, etc as often as I can because they are more “real” to me than my own species which has lost his way. And those life forms sometimes reply to not my words, but the meaning within the tone of my words, kind of like body language or telepathy, IMO they are more intelligent than the “supposed” dominant life form.
    But there is also another hidden world that we very rarely see or should I say experience, and that is other dimensional effects. Shamans are usually the ones most able to even recognize it exists and some IMO can even act within those other dimensions, IMO our species is
    doing things to the world that they have no idea of the true consequences, driving around as fast as they can in metal boxes (prisons) to their unknown demise and others you may or may not be aware of. With the degradation of morals, ethics, honor, compassion and other traits that make us what we can and should be but most humans are not, seems to me a huge waste of potentials.
    There is a quote from the movie Excalibur by Merlin which I feel touches upon the tip of that vast iceberg on this subject:
    “When a man lies, he murders some part of the world”

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