I was sitting in my family room trying to think of what music to feature for this week’s blog when I realized it was all around me.
We had all our windows open, and all I could hear were the sounds of the katydids, putting on their free nightly concert. So I thought I’d take a short walk down my street and record these wonderful insects doing what they do best.
When a group of male katydids croon a tune in nearly perfect synchrony, it means the insects are after the ladies. But they’re not aligning their singing with each other to come across as larger or louder, a new study finds; each male is trying to beat out the others to be the first—by mere milliseconds—to hit a note.
Listening to the katydids got me thinking of the unique sound of coqui frogs that we hear each time we visit our son in Hawaii:
This sound serves two purposes. “CO” serves to repel males and establish territory while the “KEE” serves to attract females.
Originally from Puerto Rico, the coquis that colonized the Big Island are believed to have hitched a ride on some potted plants from Florida in the 1990s. With no snakes, tarantulas or other natural predators to curb the population, the frogs proliferated, and state officials fear the little gray-brown amphibians will upset Hawaii’s delicate ecosystems by devouring insects vital to pollination. Officials also worry the frog could harm export plant sales.
Then there’s the sound.
In Puerto Rico, the coqui’s call is likened to sweet music and is celebrated in poetry, literature and song. But to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, a state agency, their vast numbers create a “loud, incessant and annoying call from dusk to dawn.” The male frogs chirp at about 90 decibels, roughly as loud as a lawnmower or garbage disposal.
I remember the first time we heard the coqui. We were driving down an unlit street, not really sure where we were, and all we could hear was what seemed like thousands of these frogs. It was kind of creepy at first, but I grew to love the sound, and much like the katydids, I find their sounds wonderful to fall asleep to.
And mother nature isn’t finished yet. When I wake up in the morning, I am greeted by a chorus of birds, singing their hearts out. There’s no better way to wake up each day.
Birds also sing to attract mates and to claim/defend their territory.
So given that katydids, coqui frogs, and birds all use their sounds to attract females, I guess it’s not much different from the reason many guys start a band.
One more thing we’ve learned from nature…