Bird mimics chainsaws, car alarms, and cameras

Bird mimics chainsaws, car alarms, and cameras January 12, 2009

The Australian lyrebird can imitate many bird calls, but even more impressive (to me, at least) is he can imitate the sound of chainsaws, car alarms, gun shots, and camera shutters.

I saw this clip maybe a year ago, and the wife has been begging me to find it again. Here it is:


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  • atheistyogi

    I’ve seen that several times, and it’s still hilarious :)

  • Sam

    That is the most amazing bird call I’ve ever heard… I’ve seen this video a few times over several years, and it’s always great!

    The car alarms and cameras are pretty cool, but it’s the sawing sounds and chainsaw motors that blow my mind…

  • Lucy

    What an amazing bird!! Thanks for sharing this clip.

  • Ace

    And to think that after seeing the amazing complexity of this bird with his auditory acuity and sound replicating abilities people still don’t believe in a Creator God… wow…

  • Andy

    OMG, don’t think I’ve laughed so hard for ages. That was insane! It even got the echo of the chainsaw through the forest. Totally blown away by that.

  • John C

    Daniel-

    Thx, really cool and a nice diversion. I’m curious, does your wife also share your “unbelief” if you dont mind me asking?

    Just wondering…

    JC

  • Yes, my wife is an ex-Christian as well. We married as Christians and now thrive in unbelief.

  • John C

    Thanks D

  • Black Sheep

    I missed the name of this type of bird! That was so entertaining.
    We owned an African Grey for 17 years, and that bird could also do amazing imitations–phone, nail gun, various things she heard on TV, she could sing “Oh, what a feeling…” though that’s as far as she got, and had a very large repertoire of words and phrases.
    She said “good morning” and “go night night” appropriately, and called my kids by name, as well as one of our 2 dogs.

    She now lives with an avian vet who loves her dearly. I would never recommend parrot ownership to anyone, as they are really too smart to live in captivity, and very, very challenging to care for. However, it’s so amazing to hear what some of these species can imitate! I loved the car alarm and the chain saw sounds. Hilarious.

  • Jimminy Christmas

    Ah this is nothing. I have a cat that can mimic a bird! It seems to work really well when he’s out in the back yard hunting ;)

  • A.Ou

    @Ace
    I’m not really sure if you are being serious or not, but if so, then there’s a plethora of scientific literature about the evolution of bird vocalizations which you should catch up on:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=evolution+bird+vocal

  • If it wasn’t David Attenborough, I’d be convinced that that was faked. Those impersonations were just too perfect.

  • operationgospel

    That is one unique bird. thanks for posting.

  • Ace

    Back @ you A.Ou:

    Just a friendly question. Wondering your response to this: If evolution is a real phenomenon, how come all birds don’t do this? For example, it seems like it would be pretty savvy of a robin to mutate, to “evolve,” to be able to make sounds like a blue jay, or to bark like a dog so it could scare off cats and other predators.

    By the way, how do you respond to what many scientists are discovering is true, that the universe and its contents are pulling apart, devolving, not getting more and more complex — remember the concept of entropy from your high school physics class? — Ace

  • Lord of Numa

    Ace, your understanding of evolution, and of science in general, is astonishing. Astonishing in the sense that your ignorance has left me nearly speechless.

    I’m not sure I even need to rebut your arguments aside from saying that your understanding of evolution is as hopelessly flawed as that of any Christian who finds himself brave enough to venture in Atheist territory. You see, it turns out that what they “teach” you about Evolution and Science in Sunday School is… well… fabricated bullshit. To put it in terms you Christians would understand, it is the blind leading the blind. You are sucking on the teat of ignorance.

  • @wintermute

    I’d say the same thing, but I live in the same land as the superb lyrebird. We even have it on our 10 cent coins. Its common knowledge downunder that the bird can copy everything.

  • Wondering your response to this: If evolution is a real phenomenon, how come all birds don’t do this? For example, it seems like it would be pretty savvy of a robin to mutate, to “evolve,” to be able to make sounds like a blue jay, or to bark like a dog so it could scare off cats and other predators.

    This is like asking “why aren’t all animals as fast as the cheetah? Wouldn’t speed be beneficial for everyone?”

    The answer is that there are all sorts of different strategies, some of which are mutually incompatible. The rabbit, zebra, tortoise, elephant and porcupine all have different strategies to avoid being eaten, and in many cases, the ability to run fast would destroy their current defences.

    A robin can make sounds far louder than a speaker of the same size because it only makes one sound. Having the range of a lyre bird would mean that its song would not carry anywhere near as far, so it would have more difficulty finding a mate. Swallows make variations on a pattern so that different populations can identify each other; if they frequently modified their call to incorporate new sounds, they’d not be able to recognise their home group.

    The short answer is that this kind of larynx takes energy that could be used developing other structures. It works for some species, but not for others.

  • @Ace: I really recommend you read something about evolution from non-creationist sources. Check out Zimmer’s Evolution, for instance. No offense, but it sounds like you don’t understand the basic concepts — but that’s quite common, unfortunately. I was in the same place years ago. Take a look — even if you just want to refute it, you’ll at least understand what you are refuting, instead of a straw man.

  • Ace

    Ah, Lord of Numa, I have no fear of venturing into atheist territory, but it seems you may be reluctant or unable perhaps to support the scientifically weakening notion of evolution?

    “I’m not sure I even need to rebut your arguments aside from saying that your understanding of evolution is as hopelessly flawed as that of any Christian who finds himself brave enough to venture in Atheist territory.” — Lord of Numa

    I have a question for you to ponder: “Why did sustained scientific development occur first in a Christian environment?”

    And a quote for you to consider, as well: “I thought I had left the question of the existence of a Supreme Being completely open….. It would be perfectly consistent with all we know to say that there was a Being who was responsible for all the laws of physics.” — Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

    Your thoughts, please… are you up for friendly dialogue?

  • VorJack

    @Ace- “Why did sustained scientific development occur first in a Christian environment?” ”

    Uh, it didn’t. The “father of science” was Aristotle. The pagan greek philosophers are generally considered the founders of scientific thinking.

    This Romans continued some of it, even after converting to Christianity, but after Rome fell it was picked up in Dar al-Islam. Without the contributions of Muslim scholars to Geometry and Algebra, thinkers like Copernicus would not have had the tools they needed.

    @Daniel –

    Reformedsteve was commenting in the previous thread.

  • VorJack

    @Ace – “And a quote for you to consider, as well:”

    I see two problems with bringing up this quote. First, the theory that there is an invisible all-powerful Being behind physics does not make any predictions. It remains untestable and unfalsable. So while it’s possible, the rule of parsimony dictates the we render the provisional assessment that there is no such Being until we have some more evidence. As Hawking said, he’s leaving the question open. It’s not impossible, but he’s saying no more than that.

    The second problem here is that a “Being who was responsible for all the laws of physics” covers a lot of ground. Why Being instead of Beings, for example? What evidence do we have that there were not multiple Beings? This statement is also compatible with Deism, which states that God created the universe but is no longer active in it. It is also compatible with a wide variety of mystical God ideas, where God is not a personal Being, but a process or force bringing about novelty in the meta-universe.

    So this statement gives us nothing in the front or the back. It tells us nothing about the way that the universe came to be, nor does it tell us anything about the supposed Being.

  • Doh, thanks VorJack. My mind was a little muddled from reading all those hundred something comments over last night! ;)

  • Kristoff

    I find the lyrebird to be fascinating. I don t think I d ever heard of it until I went to a place in Victoria just west of Melbourne (if I remember correctly) called Healsville Sanctuary where they had one. It made a few interesting vocalizations but did not express its full range. (I guess it would have been different had it been exposed to different auditory stimuli).
    @Ace-Typically, the argument from incredulity is dismissed (perhaps too hastily, I don t know) by those of us who accept the evidence for evolution although I admit that it can be compelling for many.

  • @Ace:

    … scientifically weakening notion of evolution?

    Thanks for my first lol of the day.

    In claiming that “… sustained scientific development occur[red] first in a Christian environment” you seem to dismiss out of hand the advances made under (or free from) other religions: Optics in the Middle East, explosives in China … the list goes on.

    All over the world, scientific development has traditionally occured despite the influence of religion. As has art.

    Consider Michaelangelo. When he began drawing, paintings were flat and detailless. Humans looked like cardboard figures on the landscape.

    Michaelangelo wanted to examine the human body in detail in order to draw it with realism. But the Church-and-cultural rules at the time banned live nude models and forbade the examination of dead bodies.

    No-one knows exactly how Michaelangelo learnt anatomical drawing, but he clearly did it in total defiance of the Vatican, ironically the place where most of his best-known works are displayed, and in defiance of public mores at the time.

    So it is with Copernicus, Gallileo, and a thousand others. Scientific work by monks, while dedicated to God, was made possible because the monasteries allowed sufficient leisure to pursue research, not because of their Christianity per se.

    In the more social field of political science, all progress has tended to be made in the face of church opposition. The most recent example being gay marriage, but voting rights for blacks and for women were significantly opposed by many churches at the time.

    Liberation theology is a new invention, caused by demographic shifts within churches and usually resisted to one degree or another by the heirarchy.

    Even now we see the results of holy-roller science policies in schools across America. Worse, we see it in the “abstinence only” sex ed the Bush misadministration inflicted on Africa, the most vulnerable continent, where a condom’s worth of prevention is worth millions, every time. Or would be, if the Jesus-loving sonofabitch had made prevention, instead of “abstinence” the central plank of his foreign aid policy.

    In short, human progress has been hindered and impeded by religion at every step. There is a reason churches fear science. And if you look at the pace of scientific advancement, you’ll notice it increases as we emerge from under the shadows of our gods.

  • John C

    @Metro-

    Good Morning Met…speaking of shadows…

    All truth is a shadow except the last. But every truth is substance in its own place and the shadow is a true shadow as the substance is a true substance.

    Isaac Pennington

    The question is…whose are YOU casting…Shadow’s or…Truth’s?

    Damn…more riddles huh…lol

    Take Care Met.

    JC

  • Ah, Lord of Numa, I have no fear of venturing into atheist territory, but it seems you may be reluctant or unable perhaps to support the scientifically weakening notion of evolution?

    The evidence for evolution grows stronger every day. The evidence against it remains non-existent. If you took Daniel’s advice and read some basic texts on the subject, you wouldn’t say foolish things like this.

    I can heartily recommend Talk Origin’s 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution – it’s a condensed version of an overview of some tiny proportion of the evidence available, but you can still expect it to take a bout a week to read through. But after that, you’ll have an inkling as to why the theory of evolution has completely supplanted special creation, and remained the dominant (and, indeed, sole) explanation of biological history for a hundred and fifty years.

    If, on the other hand, you’d rather limit your reading to Creationist lawyers making arguments that were known to be false before Darwin was born, then feel free. Just don’t expect people to take you seriously.

  • @John C.
    And good morning to you too.

    One can only cast shadows if one lives in the light. Are you casting a shadow?

  • John C

    @Metro-

    Good comeback my north of the border friend…you are a witty one indeed.

    Now tell me about the moon Met? Does it have any light of its own? And just how lunar will we be content to…glow?

    The path of the just is like the shining…sun that grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

    And what does it mean to be “single-eyed” Met? At one with…whom, single again? And were we ever?

    Walk in the light as He is in the (true) light.

    I need my sunglasses…cheap sunglasses…lol

    JC

  • Aor

    Joh, speak english.

  • A.Ou

    An old argument…but, being creationists, their arguments are doomed to be static.

    By the way, how do you respond to what many scientists are discovering is true, that the universe and its contents are pulling apart, devolving, not getting more and more complex — remember the concept of entropy from your high school physics class? — Ace

    That aspect of entropy applies only to a closed system, which Earth and its organisms are not. Order in an *open* system can increase naturally, and this is balanced by a corresponding decrease in order of the external environment.
    For example, homeostasis (the regulation of the internal environment of an organism) ensures that the body temperature is near constant, a high degree of order in comparison to the wider external fluctuations in temperature due to weather. This order is sustained by the organism’s continuous nutrient intake and metabolism, making life an open system.

    By a different example, phospholipids, the main component in cellular membranes, have been observed forming bilayers spontaneously in solution.

    If you want further proof that order can arise without divine intervention, simply put water and oil in a bottle and shake it up. Leave it alone, and eventually the water and oil will separate into distinct layers.

    http://www.toarchive.org/faqs/thermo/entropy.html

  • Ace

    How about the internet? Does/did the internet “arise without” intervention, [Al Gore aside]…

  • Ace:

    Of course not. But how is that a relevant question?

  • Ace

    wintermute:

    The relevancy of my question is as follows, and while I am not a scientist, I do like to think logically about things… :

    The internet is one of the most intricate, complex “things” we computer savvy humans observe, interact with and use on a daily basis.

    We can easily recognize it as being a “thing” that would not exist without the thought, creativity, desire, intellect of humans to cause it to happen and persist. For example, the chips, code, satellites, etc were purposefully made by humans. We would decry anyone who claimed that it just “happened.”

    The intricacy of the human eye, for example, exceeds in unimaginable complexity that of the internet . . . I respectfully ask you [no personal attacks here… genuine curiosity…] to help me understand your willingness to attribute the presence and function, viability of the internet to its “creators” yet are seemingly unwilling to attribute the exquisite intricacies and functions of the myriad components of the eye, for example, to a thoughtful, creative, intelligent Creator?

  • A.Ou

    @Ace
    I don’t mind answering questions if you have any. I’ll trust you when you say you’re open minded about the topic.

    I’m not wintermute, but I’ll start the topic off, if that’s fine.

    One important point to understand that the eye, while complex, contains many obvious imperfects: blind spots, placement of blood vessels hindering light, high risk of retina tearing, etc. This can be explained by evolution (natural selection is an editing process that works on a “better than” basis – ancestral flaws are difficult to completely get rid of and thus are traceable across lineages) but casts doubt on the foresight of a supposedly omnipotent creator.

    A rough outline of how the evolution might have occurred:

    – The eye likely began as a flat surface of photoreceptor (light-sensitive) cells. After all, distinguishing shadows would be a big advantage over blindness for tasks like basic navigation.
    – Natural selection would then favor that group of cells to form a cup-like depression. Since each cell receive different amounts of light from being in a slightly different positions, the organism is able to discern, roughly, the direction of light. This is the eye that still exists in species of flatworms.
    – The next development is the transition from an open cup to a closed structure with a narrow slit. By minimizing the amount of light entering the eye cavity, the image can be better focused. However, it also has the major drawback of making the image dim. This type of eye still exists in the chambered nautilus.
    – How to improve the focusing power? Add a lens over the opening, of course. This basically the eye of vertebrates. (The octopus also has a lens eye, too, but its version is thought to have independently evolved.)

    Diagram:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diagram_of_eye_evolution.svg

    PBS Video Demonstrating Transitional Models:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html

    Creationists and IDers often like to say that 50% of a “fully developed” eye is useless – therefore, the eye could not have evolved from simpler forms. But as you can see, these simpler forms do exist in nature, and they offer a substantial advantage over a lack of an eye.

    A more details treatment of the vertebrate eye:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/12/evolution_of_vertebrate_eyes.php

  • A.Ou

    On an unrelated note, I sort of wish there was some way to edit posts for typos – I don’t really want to start sounding like I got a fundie level of English education…

  • Aor

    Ace, as you can see your ID version of the evolution of the eye was easily shown to be wrong. Now, this isn’t surprising. What should be surprising is that people keep trotting out that failed old falsehood. Seeing how easily it gets discredited, don’t you have to wonder about the people who spread it? Where did you hear it, and don’t you think that now that you realize it is simply false that you should go back to those people and teach them where they were wrong? Why do the same old failed concepts keep getting repeated despite being shot down every time?
    These are serious questions. If evolution was in doubt, truly in doubt, if there were plain and obvious flaws all throughout the theory of evolution wouldn’t there be many many arguments you could cut and paste from Answers in Genesis or some other creationist website? If evolution was easily disproved, why would those people just keep batting around the same old falsehoods?

    Those are things you should consider. Don’t just wave them away because they don’t fit what you want to believe, but consider them. Perhaps if you gain knowledge of evolution you could be the creationist to find critical flaws. Perhaps your new found knowledge would lead you away from creationism. Either way, it is better to have the knowledge than not.

  • Ace:

    If computers could breed and reproduce over millions of years, with those baby computers that were better able to communicate having a survival advantage, you’d expect to see the Internet evolve naturally.

    But as computers don’t reproduce like living creatures, it’s really a bad idea to use them as an analogy. Evolution only affects things that reproduce genetically, not things that get made in a factory.

  • Ace

    I was using the computer and internet as analogies guys, to point out the beauty and intricacy of them and to say they don’t just happen. People MAKE them happen.

    Darwin said at the end of his life, that unless a plethora of “transitional forms” could be found in the fossil record to prove his evolutionary theory, he’d have to say it was just that… an interesting, but unproven theory. IE, you’d expect to find transitional forms everywhere. We don’t.

  • @Ace:

    you’d expect to find transitional forms everywhere. We don’t.

    I don’t understand how anyone except a creationist — or someone who has never studied evolution — can say this. It’s an astounding accusation and ignores the last 100 years of science history.

    I would know, I used to be a creationist.

    Here are some things to read for an overview:

    http://talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#morphological_intermediates

    http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC200.html

    We find exactly what we expect to find in the fossil records.

    But seriously, please go and read Zimmer’s Evolution. Please.

  • I was using the computer and internet as analogies guys, to point out the beauty and intricacy of them and to say they don’t just happen. People MAKE them happen.

    Computers need to be built because they don’t breed and reproduce. Therefore natural selection cannot operate upon them. Really, when you’re trying to talk about how living things come into the world, and how computers, cars, Coke cans or pocket watches come into the world understanding that basic difference will render any creationist analogy moot.

    Darwin said at the end of his life, that unless a plethora of “transitional forms” could be found in the fossil record to prove his evolutionary theory, he’d have to say it was just that… an interesting, but unproven theory. IE, you’d expect to find transitional forms everywhere. We don’t.

    Yes we do. I mean, assuming we go out and loom for them, anyway. Wikipedia has a very, very short list of a bare handful of the more famous transitionals at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils. A rather better discussion of the topic, complete with more obscure transitionals can be found at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html.

    But here’s the big secret: Pretty much every fossil ever found is transitional. It has ancestors that are different from it, and it (probably) has descendants that are different from it, and it is transitional between the two. We might not have found an ancestor and a descendant that are different enough that we can tell the difference from fossils, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a transition between two states.

    Transitions between species often take place quickly (in geological terms) so obvious species-level transitions (as opposed to a late example of the parent species, or an early example of the child species) are comparatively rare, but transitions between larger groups happen slowly, and we have a great many fossils that are perfect, textbook examples of such transitional phases.

  • Aor

    Ace, again you show that you have no proper understanding of evolution. Please, start to think for yourself. Why are your ideas of evolution so wrong? Why would anyone lie to you about evolution? If your beliefs about evolution come from your peers priests and parents then you should go to them and tell them how they were wrong. They believe false things, they taught you those false things, and now you brought those false things here and found out, lo and behold, they were false.

    Learn about evolution. Please. Before you bring up any more tired and stale pseudoscience, read.

    PS. Quote mining Darwin isn’t exactly convincing either. Quote mining never is.

  • Ace

    “I was using the computer and internet as analogies guys, to point out the beauty and intricacy of them and to say they don’t just happen. People MAKE them happen.”

    Sorry. Creationist argument FAIL.

    Just because something is complex doesn’t mean a being had to create it. And beauty is SUBJECTIVE, and means nothing in this context.

  • Ace

    “Please, start to think for yourself. Why are your ideas of evolution so wrong? Why would anyone lie to you about evolution?”

    You sound a little angry to me… I wonder if you would relax and just kindly respond to my actual questions?

    Q: Why is our planet NOT littered, flooded with the remains of transitional life forms — eg fossils showing “evolution” from a water to a land creature, for example?

    Why doesn’t the average person continually stumble upon the evidence of transitional forms everywhere in river beds, creek beds… the same places where we find fossil remains of single creatures, arrow heads, etc…

  • A.Ou

    Q: Why is our planet NOT littered, flooded with the remains of transitional life forms — eg fossils showing “evolution” from a water to a land creature, for example?

    Why doesn’t the average person continually stumble upon the evidence of transitional forms everywhere in river beds, creek beds… the same places where we find fossil remains of single creatures, arrow heads, etc…

    You haven’t found anything because you AREN’T EVEN TRYING TO LOOK.

    Did you even read my outline of eye evolution? Transitional forms can be found alive today.

    You want a list of transitional fossils?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils

    Don’t think whales are descended from wolf-like terrestrial ancestors?
    ttp://lh5.ggpht.com/_Z42U4rD7vMY/SXFSveBO1jI/AAAAAAAAAGk/sPIPN9b-A00/s144/whales.jpg

    Are you even reading the links we supplied?

  • Aor

    Ace, I asked you questions and you declined answering. Why would you expect me to answer you when you refuse to answer me? Sadly, if you actually cared what the answer was you would have simply looked it up.

    You are ignorant of evolution. Go study it. If you are the creationist that finally makes evolution truly appear to be wrong in the eyes of scientists, then congratulations. What you are doing right now however is simply a farce. When your points about evolution are quickly dismissed by regular members of society, don’t you start to wonder about those who gave you such poor information? Where they incompetent? Were they liars? How could they possibly not know how wrong they are when regular people on the internet can provide the answers so easily?

    I’m not angry with you, I’m annoyed by your ignorance. I don’t know anything about repairing cars, should I go tell people that there is a right way and a wrong way to repair a car? Should I hang out on car repair websites telling people that you just gotta weld this part right here or the whole damn thing won’t run? You don’t know about evolution yet you insist on talking about it as if you had disproved it. Please, read about it from non-creationist sources. If your disproofs were real, there would be entire universities dedicating vast resources to finding the real process if the current theory of evolution isn’t it. That isn’t happening. There are no reputable creationist peer reviewed publications. They don’t do research, or at least none to speak of. Why wouldn’t they? If they were right, there would be countless religious universities and hospitals employing research scientists to study.. well, creationism. Why isn’t that happening if evolution is so obviously wrong? Can you see the nose on your face?

    Those who understand evolution rarely disagree with it. Those who don’t understand it, like you, well.. they just plain don’t understand it.

  • Why doesn’t the average person continually stumble upon the evidence of transitional forms everywhere in river beds, creek beds… the same places where we find fossil remains of single creatures, arrow heads, etc…

    A hundred years ago, there were billions of passenger pigeons in America; they were the most numerous bird species ever to live. And yet, there’s not a single known passenger pigeon fossil. Because fossils are rare.

    When was the last time you “stumbled upon” any kind of fossil at all? I’m willing to bet the answer is “never”. They’re pretty rare, because the circumstances that lead to fossilisation are pretty rare, and the vast majority of rocks that fossils might be in aren’t conveniently on the surface where people can get at them. And if you did “stumble upon” a transitional form, how would you recognise it as such? Do you know enough about the anatomy of any class of extinct animals that you could identify primitive and derived features and assess its relationship to other known species?

    That being said, when people do go looking for fossils, they find transitional forms pretty commonly. You’ve been linked to several resources that demonstrate this clearly, but you keep on pretending that if you don’t read them, they don’t count. If you’ve actually read them and can find actual problems with the sources cited, why not explain that to us so we can go on from there? When you keep insisting to aeronautics engineers that heavier-than-air flight is impossible, they tend to start ignoring you pretty quickly. That people here are still prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you might actually be interested in learning something new is an opportunity you are quickly throwing away.

    Here’s a fascinating paper for you to ignore: Planktonic microfossils and the recognition of ancestors By Prothero and Lazarus, 1980. Basically, planktonic microfossils form commonly enough, and we’ve surveyed enough of the world’s oceans that we know about 80-90% of the species of plankton that have ever lived. So we have enough information to be able to accurately say that Species A is definitively ancestral to Species B, and we can map species transitions with an incredible level of detail.