When you hear crickets chirping or birds tweeting, do you wonder what it all means? From orcas and shrimps to beetles and chimpanzees, every species communicates verbally or non-verbally to transmit information to others. The cues could signal courtship and mating, the approach of predators, territorial boundaries, a food source, or pure joy. To the untrained human ear animal communication may be indistinguishable. The following digital media resources shed light on the research experts have been uncovering on the way some animals hear and communicate.
This video segment explores the night time worlds of the desert fox and the barn owl, whose heightened sense of hearing allows them to travel and find food while most other animals lie low and wait for daylight. Footage from NOVA: “Mystery of the Senses: Hearing.”
GUESS HOW WHALES HEAR!
What does the ocean sound like to a whale? How do whales hear? Dr. Darlene Ketten of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution really wanted to know. This video segment reveals how one marine biologist learns how cetaceans hear and what they hear. Understanding this information may help save these important creatures against noise pollution caused by human activity.
SOUND WAVES LISTENING TO ORCAS
Orcas are an icon of the Pacific Northwest, stirring a mix of fascination, awe and affection. Thousands of people come to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound just to catch a glimpse of the Southern Resident orcas that call these waters home. By using underwater microphones, or hydrophones, scientists record the acoustic environment of the killer whales to track their communication and gain a deeper understanding of how human-made noise affects them.
PRAIRIE DOG CALLS
In this video from DragonflyTV, Julian and Sabrina think one of the funniest exhibits at the zoo is the prairie dogs. They’re always busy yipping and yapping, but that got them wondering if they just make noise or if they are communicating. Do prairie dogs make different kinds of barks? Julian and Sabrina create sound spectrum snapshots of prairie dog barks to explore animal communication.
BIRD CALL QUIZ
Birds have different calls to communicate to each other. Test your ability to distinguish between the calls. In this interactive activity figure out which are songs, which are companion calls, and which are alarms.
For more great science videos, visit pbslearningmedia.org .