Bahasa burung bukan isapan jempol


Bahasa burung adalah frasa yang sering kita dengar dalam keseharian pergaulan kita. Ketika kata “bahasa burung” disebutkan, kita berasosiasi bahwa itu adalah sebuah bahasa yang sulit dimengerti atau bahkan dianggap tidak berarti sama sekali.

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Namun penelitian atas nyanyian burung sudah membuktikan bahwa bahasa burung memiliki arti dan konteksnya sendiri di dunia burung. Kalau pada tulisan sebelumnya (Referensi bagus studi suara burung) saya menyajikan tulisan dari Wikipedia mengenai perbedaan antara nyanyian burung dan teriakan burung, maka pada tulisan lanjutan mengenai hal itu kita berbicara tentang bahasa burung tersebut.

Dengan memahami hal ini, kita akan bisa meningkatkan performa nyanyian burung kita, baik dari segi keindahan maupun hasil pemasteran, khususnya untuk burung -burung lomba.

Oke, berikut ini tulisan lanjutan mengenai Bird Vocalization yang bisa Anda baca versi bahasa Indonesianya melalui fasilitas terjemahan Google.Com.


The language of the birds has long been a topic for anecdote and speculation. That calls have meanings that are interpreted by their listeners has been well demonstrated. Domestic chickens have distinctive alarm calls for aerial and ground predators, and they respond to these alarm calls appropriately. However a language has, in addition to words, structures and rules. Studies to demonstrate the existence of language have been difficult due to the range of possible interpretations. Research on parrots by Irene Pepperberg is claimed to demonstrate the innate ability for grammatical structures, including the existence of concepts such as nouns, adjectives and verbs. Studies on starling vocalizations have also suggested that they may have recursive structures.

Those who set forth the existence of bird language in tracking and naturalist studies denote 5 basic types of sound: call, song, territorial, fledgling, and alarm. The first four are denoted as “baseline” behavior, relating to the relative safety and calm of the birds, while the later denotes the awareness of a threat or predator. Within each of these basic categories, the particular of meanings of these sounds are based upon inflection, body language and contextual setting.


The main brain areas involved in bird song are:

  • Anterior forebrain pathway (vocal learning): composed of the lateral part of the magnocellular nucleus of anterior neostriatum (LMAN), which is a homologue to mammalian basal ganglia); Area X, which is part of the basal ganglia; and the Dorso-Lateral division of the Medial thalamus (DLM).
  • Song production pathway: composed of the HVC (sometimes, inaccurately, called the Hyperstriatum Ventralis pars Caudalis); robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA); and the tracheosyringeal part of the hypoglossal nucleus (nXIIts).
  • Both pathways show sexual dimorphism, with the male producing song most of the time. It has been noted that injecting testosterone in non-singing female birds can induce growth of the HVC and thus production of song.

    Birdsong production is generally thought to start at the nucleus uvaeformis of the thalamus with signals emanating along a pathway that terminates at the syrinx. The pathway from the thalamus leads to the interfacial nucleus of the nidopallium to the HVC, and then to RA, the dorso-lateral division of the medial thalamus and to the tracheosyringeal nerve.

    The gene FOXP2, defects of which affect both speech and comprehension of language in humans, becomes more active in the striatal region of songbirds during the time of song learning.

    Recent research in birdsong learning has focused on the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), which sends a dopamine input to the para-olfactory lobe and Area X, LMAN and the ventrolateral medulla. Other researchers have explored the possibility that HVc is responsible for syllable production, while the robust nucleus of the arcopallium, the primary song output nucleus, may be responsible for syllable sequencing and production of notes within a syllable.


    The songs of different species of birds vary, and are more or less characteristic of the species. In modern-day biology, bird song is typically analysed using acoustic spectroscopy. Species vary greatly in the complexity of their songs and in the number of distinct kinds of song they sing (up to 3000 in the Brown Thrasher); in some species, individuals vary in the same way. In a few species such as starlings and mockingbirds, songs imbed arbitrary elements learned in the individual’s lifetime, a form of mimicry (though maybe better called “appropriation” [Ehrlich et al.], as the bird does not pass for another species). As early as 1773 it was established that birds learnt calls and cross-fostering experiments were able to force a Linnet Acanthis cannabina to learn the song of a skylark Alauda arvensis. In many species it appears that although the basic song is the same for all members of the species, young birds learn some details of their songs from their fathers, and these variations build up over generations to form dialects.

    Timeline for song learning in different species. Diagram adapted from Brainard & Doupe, 2002.

    Birds learn songs early in life with sub-vocalizations that develop into renditions of adult songs. Zebra Finches, the most popular species for birdsong research, develop a version of a familiar adult’s song after 20 or more days from hatch. By around 35 days, the chick will have learned the adult song. The early song is “plastic” or variable and it takes the young bird two or three months to perfect the “crystallized” song (which is less variable) of sexually mature birds.

    Research indicates birds’ acquisition of song is a form of motor learning that involves regions of the basal ganglia. Models of bird-song motor learning are sometimes used as models for how humans learn speech. In some species such as zebra finches, learning of song is limited to the first year; they are termed ‘age-limited’ or ‘close-ended’ learners. Other species such as the canaries can develop new songs even as sexually mature adults; these are termed ‘open-ended’ learners.

    Researchers have hypothesized that learned songs allow the development of more complex songs through cultural interaction, thus allowing intraspecies dialects that help birds stay with their own kind within a species, and it allows birds to adapt their songs to different acoustic environments.

    Auditory feedback in bird song learning

    Early experiments by Thorpe in 1954 showed the importance of a bird being able to hear a tutor’s song. When birds are raised in isolation, away from the influence of conspecific males, they still sing. While the song they produce resembles the song of a wild bird, it lacks the complexity and sounds distinctly different. The importance of the bird being able to hear himself sing in the sensorimotor period was later discovered by Konishi. Birds deafened before the song crystallization period went on to produce very different songs from the wild type. These findings lead scientists to believe there could be a specific part of the brain dedicated to this specific type of learning.

    The main focus in the search for the neuronal aspect of bird song learning was guided by the song template hypothesis. This hypothesis is the idea that when a bird is young he memorizes the song of his tutor. Later, during the development phase as an adult, he matches his own trial vocalizations using auditory feedback to an acoustic template in the brain. Based on this information, he adjusts his song if needed. To find this “song template,” experimenters lesioned certain parts of the brain and observed the effects.

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    Song learning pathway in birds (Based on Nottebohm, 2005)

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  • Lesioning the song production pathway (RA, xXII or HVc) in the brain creates serious effects on song production in all birds.
  • Lesions parts of the anterior forebrain pathway, or vocal learning pathway, DLM and area X, result in deficits in learning in all birds.
  • Lesioning LMAN, located in the anterior forebrain pathway in young birds disrupts song production.
  • Lesioning LMAN on an adult bird shows no effect.
  • Lesioning LMAN on an adult canary (an “open-ended learner” species, which can learn songs later in life) shows a progressive deterioration of song.
  • These results show that the area known as LMAN is the only brain area in the pathway that shows some plasticity and further studies have shown that this area of the brain responds best to the bird’s own song. This neuroplasticity is vital for a bird being able to learn a song. The ability to make small adjustments based on auditory feedback is needed for the complexity of these beautiful songs. Just like any musician, birds need to practice and be able to evaluate what their song sounds like and what it’s supposed to sound like in order to get it right.

    To complete the picture on bird song learning, experimenters needed to discover the true plasticity of the brain. While deafening and creating auditory isolation were good techniques for discovering basic characteristics about the brain, a reversible procedure was needed to investigate further. The solution was found in disruption of the auditory feedback, or what a bird hears. A computer is able to capture the song of a singing bird and play back portions of its song, or selectively play back a certain syllable while the bird is singing. The computer is basically playing the age old trick of repeating whatever the bird sings, the “stop copying me” game. This creates such a disruption that an adult bird will start to decrystallize its song, which includes a loss of spectral and temporal rigidity characteristic of adult song. It reverts back to the song it started singing with, before any learning took place. Furthermore, when the feedback was stopped, the birds slowly recovered their original song, something that was unheard of. These results show that there is a fair amount of plasticity retained in the brain, even for close-ended learners[53]. This new found plasticity in adult birds and the results on the plasticity of LMAN (shown above) combine into a model for bird song learning (diagram coming soon).

    Mirror neurons and vocal learning

    A mirror neuron is a neuron that discharges both when an individual performs an action, and when he perceives that same action being performed by another. These neurons were first discovered in macaque monkeys, but recent research suggests that mirror neuron systems may be present in other animals including humans.

    Mirror neurons have the following characteristics:

  • They are located the premotor cortex
  • They exhibit both sensory and motor properties
  • They are action-specific “ mirror neurons are only active when an individual is performing or observing a certain type of action (e.g.: grasping an object).
  • Because mirror neurons exhibit both sensory and motor activity, some researchers have suggested that mirror neurons may serve to map sensory experience onto motor structures.

    This has implications for birdsong learning’s many birds rely on auditory feedback to acquire and maintain their songs. Mirror neurons may be mediating this comparison of what the bird hears and what he produces.

    n search of these auditory-motor neurons, Jonathan Prather and other researchers at Duke University recorded the activity of single neurons in the HVCs of swamp sparrows. They discovered that the neurons that project from the HVC to Area X (HVCX neurons) are highly responsive when the bird is hearing a playback of his own song. These neurons also fire in similar patterns when the bird is singing that same song. Swamp sparrows employ 3-5 different song types, and the neural activity differs depending on which song is heard or sung. The HVCX neurons only fire in response to the presentation (or singing) of one of the songs, the primary song type. They are also temporally selective, firing at a precise phase in the song syllable.

    Because the timing of the neural response is identical regardless of whether the bird was listening or singing, how can we be sure that the bird isn’t just hearing himself? Prather et al. found that during the short period of time before and after the bird sings, his HVCX neurons become insensitive to auditory input. In other words, the bird becomes “deaf” to his own song. This suggests that these neurons are producing a corollary discharge, which would allow for direct comparison of motor output and auditory input. This may be the mechanism underlying learning via auditory feedback.

    Song selectivity in HVCx neurons: neuron activity in response to calls heard (green) and calls produced (red). a. Neurons fire when the primary song type is either heard or sung. b,c. Neurons do not fire in response to the other song type, regardless of whether it is heard or sung. Sketch based on figure from Prather et al. (2008)

    Overall, the HVCX auditory-motor neurons in swamp sparrows are very similar to the visual-motor mirror neurons discovered in primates. Like mirror neurons, the HVCX neurons:

  • Are located in a premotor brain area
  • Exhibit both sensory and motor properties
  • Are action-specific “ a response is only triggered by the ˜primary song type”
  • The function of the mirror neuron system is still unclear. Some scientists speculate that mirror neurons may play a role in understanding the actions of others, imitation, theory of mind and language acquisition, though there is currently insufficient neurophysiological evidence in support of these theories. Specifically regarding birds, it is possible that the mirror neuron system serves as a general mechanism underlying vocal learning, but further research is needed. In addition to the implications for song learning, the mirror neuron system could also play a role in territorial behaviors such as song-type matching and countersinging. (Bersambung)

    Penting: Burung Anda kurang joss dan mudah gembos? Baca dulu yang ini.


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