It's Not Just The Drab Birds With A Heavenly Song: Spectacular Birds Can Sing Beautifully As Well

Luis Davilla/Cover/Getty Images

The old belief that birds with drab plumage sing more beautiful songs than those who are flashy and spectacular doesn’t stand up to the scientific evidence, say US researchers.

They analysed the relationship between song and plumage complexity in tanagers, the largest family of songbirds, and found no such relationship exists

The results of the study are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Naturalists have long observed that colourful birds often sing simple songs, while many talented songsters have drab plumage.

However, this concept known as the transfer hypothesis has never been tested across a large group of related birds.

Nicholas Mason of San Diego State University and colleagues write: “We find that song and plumage complexity are uncorrelated among tanagers as a whole, suggesting that elaborate song and plumage signals evolve independently.”

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