Songbirds sing like humans: Study

New York: A songbird’s vocal muscles work like those of humans and singers, finds a new study.

The research on Bengalese finches — a popular cage bird — showed that each of their vocal muscles can change its function to help produce different parameters of sounds in a manner similar to that of a trained opera singer.

“Our research suggests that producing really complex song relies on the ability of the songbirds’ brains to direct complicated changes in combinations of muscles,” said Samuel Sober, biologist at the Emory University in Georgia, US.

“In terms of vocal control, the bird brain appears as complicated and wonderful as the human brain,” Sober said.

“Muscles translates the brain’s output into behaviour,” he added.

There is no single muscle devoted to controlling pitch in a songbird, the research revealed.

“They have to activate a lot of different muscles in concert, and these changes are different for different vocalizations,” explained Sober.

Birds have a vocal organ called the syrinx, which holds their vocal cords deeper in their bodies.

While humans have one set of vocal cords, a songbird has two sets, enabling it to produce two different sounds simultaneously, in harmony with itself.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.