Male Brazilian free-tailed bats sing intricate songs to attract females and deter other males using a set syllabic order and syntax, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One. The bats can even add their own creative touches to the croonings.
By examining 400 songs produced by 33 free-tailed bats, researchers found that all the bats produce songs with a common hierarchical structure. “All are constructed from the same four types of syllables and all syllables are combined in the same way to form three types of phrases,” says [lead author Kirsten] Bohn. These phrases can be either chirps, trills or buzzes [BBC News], and the complexity of the songs rival those only of birds and whales, leaving those produced by mice in the dust. The bats may vary their songs to appeal more to females or to convey different sentiments. “Within the broad rules, the bats are quite versatile” [BBC News], Bohn says.
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Video: Kirsten Bohn, et al. The slowed-down video shows a male bat singing while performing a wing-flapping display for roosting females.