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Have You Ever Heard of Bellbirds?

The name bellbird is given to the tropical bellbirds of south and central America(Genus Procnias), the crested bellbird of Australia (Oreoica gutturalis), and the New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura). These are all about the size of a thrush, around 8 inches long. Most are pretty birds that feed mostly on fruit, berries and some insects, often collected in flight.

There is a variation in appearance between the species, but what is distinctive about bellbirds is their call. This is often described as the ringing of a metal bell, hence, the name.

They are also ventriloquistic, so during the course of their song, they sound like they are far away, then as if they are getting closer, then as if they are right overhead, though, in truth, the bird has remained in the same nearby perch the whole time. Because of this, they are much more frequently heard than seen and not much was known about them until the last few decades and there is still a lot more that we don’t know about the bird.

For example, we have no idea what the purpose is for the loud call, as it doesn’t seem to have any advantage in survival.

One species, the white bellbird, has been named as the loudest bird in the world and the call has been measured at 125 decibels, about equal to a jack-hammer, though more melodic.

  • Have you ever heard about this bird?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’ve not only heard of it, I’ve actually heard its call

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Written by Rex Trulove

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4 Comments

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    • The interesting part, to me, is that there are 4 species in South and Central America, but there are two more species, one in Australia and one in New Zealand. That tells me that the birds existed before continental drift bore Australia away.

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