Bird Calls of Amazonia

Hey! So, we’re here with Ernesto Ruelas, who is an ornithologist with the Action Center. What are we going to be doing today? – What we’re going to do
is follow Trail #4. We’re going to be looking for birds. So the way we do this work
is that we follow the pre-opened trail that Alvaro has worked on for several weeks. And we look for birds. We do this at a slow pace so
we can detect as many as we can. – What should we keep in mind
while we’re doing this? Like, be quiet? – This is the most complex bird landscape that you can find in the world, so that takes a lot of work. First is
to be aware that most of the birds that we’ll be recording, we won’t see.
80% of the birds we only listen to. I have 7 x 42 binoculars that have great light. They are really good for working in the forest. I have a field guide to the birds of Peru,
my notebook to take notes, an iPod with headphones, a tape recorder. This is one model that a lot
of the bird people really like. A unidirectional microphone with a handle. I do a lot of recordings primarily for
learning, and then I go back to my reference collection to
figure out what I’m hearing. – Oh, that’s great. Cool!
I hope we find some birds. – We have a piha there. (whistles) – Yeah, the one that
makes a lot of noise? The woo-hoo! – Yeah. “Wis-wincho” they call them in Spanish. – Yeah. – Wis-winchoo!
– What does that translate to? – Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything.
– It’s nonsense? – It’s just a call, yeah.
– It’s the most indicative rainforest bird noise. – Yeah. Right here, it is. We
have an antbird back there. – Does it just take practice to differentiate
between the insect noises and the bird noises? – You are misled all the time. Telling
insects from birds seems like a dumb thing, but it happens often that you
can’t figure out what it is. – Yeah. – And also mammals. – Really?
– Yes, yes. Some of them have birdlike calls. – Really? – That’s cool. Oh, that guy’s got a
piece of toilet paper from camp. Do you know what kind?
– They call it “tio juan,” Uncle Juan. Tio juan, juan, juan. Where is it? White-throated toucan. – Wow. How beautiful. So what do you
do with all of this new information? If you’re seeing different species crossing–
you’re hearing them in different forests… Does this immediately go into the new
field guide, or do you publish a new paper about distribution? – I think the speed of
change and the fact that many of the places in the Western Amazon haven’t been
explored that deeply makes you run into these range extensions very often.
– Yeah. – And it’s not that you’re discovering the greatest thing, it’s just that the place
has been overlooked in time. – Yeah. – We can upload them in systems online,
like eBird, where you can map your records in different places, and whenever the next
edition of the Field Guide to the Birds of Peru comes out, then the maps will be redrawn. So I have a flycatcher and I have an
antbird, and I was trying to focus on the antbird because the flycatcher I have
recorded many times. It’s somewhat common. – Mmhm. – I think I got a
pretty bad recording of both. – You can have longer microphones that are narrower, that narrow down the angle of what you’re recording, and that helps a lot.
But for the most part, you can’t really do much if there is competing voices in the same spot.
When you have a flock of antbirds following a swarm of army ants… – Yeah. – You hear
multiple voices and there is a lot of excitement. It’s very difficult to get a recording
of a single species, unless it’s the only one following the
ants, which is really rare. – Well, we’ve been out for a little over an hour.
I am incredibly sweaty. What’s the conclusion? What did we see?
– Today on this walk, about an hour and fifteen minutes, we probably heard
20-25 species. – Really? – And we saw two. – Yeah. I saw one dove fly over really
quickly, and you saw a toucan. – I saw a toucan. – So what I’ve learned
about birdwatching is it’s more about the other things that you see while you
are trying to listen for birds. – Right. – They should call it “bird listening” not
birdwatching. – In this case, yes. You’re totally right. – (laughs) Cool.

100 thoughts on “Bird Calls of Amazonia

  1. Well this was either my dog's favorite or least favorite episode of The Brain Scoop! He watched it intently, but I don't know if he liked listening to the birds or if it drove him crazy that he couldn't actually find the birds!

  2. it still has brains on it 🙂 then i know yet another wonderful vid has come to an end. looking forward to many more. thank you!

  3. Again Tom you have made a beautiful piece of work! Get's me so hyped for this sort of thing and I feel very close to the emotions of wonder in the researchers (and Emily of course) Thank you again for making this series, it's absolutely fantastic!

  4. I can only think that standing in the jungle and recording bird calls would have to be the most relaxing undertaking. Almost a Zen experience. Despite saying that she's "very sweaty" Emily seemed to be pretty chill with the experience. I always get excited when and new Brain Scoop appears in my inbox! Such wonderful stuff!

  5. You can take understanding bird calls a step farther than just species ID–into interpreting the meaning behind the various different sounds that birds make, as well as their body language if you can see them. Learning bird language allows one to tap into the communication network of wild animals, in which birds and other creatures tell each other who is about and where–warning of danger in the form of a fox or snake or hawk or human, claiming territory, attracting mates, raising families. It's beautifully complicated and the process will sharpen your senses and strengthen your ability to be calm, slow and quiet.

  6. Coolbeans! Interesting to see how your can find the right bird in a sea of sounds. Looking forward to the next video!

  7. haha … should be called Bird Listening not Bird Watching … so true … so patient … love these videos 🙂

  8. I love this channel so much. Not only do we learn about various animals and plants and such, we also learn about how we learn these things, about how people go out and collect information and discover things we didn't know before. I like these videos especially, where we get to see people out in the field doing their work. It's very interesting, even though natural history was not previously an interest of mine.

  9. 2:06 Was anyone else instantly transported to reminiscences of playing The Amazon Trail circa 1995 or so? No? Just me? Okay then.

  10. Absolutely stunning! I love seeing birds from other places than where I live. I'm often amazed at how beautiful and unique each species is. Thank you Brain Scoop!

  11. Watching this video again on my computer, I just noticed that the razor billed curassow has a deep, buzzing call that I missed when I watched it on my phone.

    If you are watching this video on a mobile device, wear headphones!

  12. Just my opinion, but I sort of wish this video didn't have that piano melody playing in the background. I wanted to hear the birds more so then an orchestra. 

  13. Wonderful blend of beautiful, scenic video with interesting commentary. I've always loved Toucans, don't know if I've ever heard them before–aside from Sam, anyway.

  14. the Peru series of videos is great. I love the topics, it helps me remember the time I spent in the Ecuadorian rainforest. The whole series is tied together well with the inclusion of the Carnival of the Animals

  15. That was wonderful, thank you for sharing, Emily! I've never heared of the razor-billed curassow, but it sounds incredible. And I am really jelous of your tucan-experience.

  16. This video is mostly about listening. Yet, there is an all time present background music that takes this experience from the viewers. Too bad…

  17. I really dug the piano accompaniment even if others didn't. Considering that all the species were listed, it's really easy to look up high quality bird call recordings on websites, such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( I know these videos are primarily educational, but they're also a great blend of art and science, something that Emily and the rest of the production crew have been about since day one. Even so, my opinion.

  18. Loving these Amazon videos!! It must have been such an amazing trip and the documentation is so beautiful and different than any other YouTube science videos. (P.S. I think the music is fantastic!)

  19. love!  Will share with the educators and students who are heading to the Amazon with us this summer – to locations not far from where you filmed this!  Thanks for providing us with such great free resources to share! 

  20. As I am getting crazy right now: Could you try not to use sounds that make me looking for my phone every 3 seconds? 😀

  21. Not just in Peru, but everywhere in the world, it's said that good birders identify many more birds by sound than by sight.
    I'm not very good at identifying bird sounds, which is the main reason I'm not a good birder.

    Emily's right, it should be called "bird listening" instead of "bird watching."

  22. Watching this without headphones on and with my dog in the room, she is running between the computer and the window as if she's going to find some of those birds in a snow-covered pine forest.

  23. When you are done with the Amazon, would you consider making a video about the Viking exhibit you guys are getting? Icelandic Viking reenactor here, being very hopeful.

  24. Started watching Brain Scoop around the time y'all started the Amazon videos, and let me say, my timing was perfect.  I enjoy all of the other videos as well, since it's basically like a "behind the scenes" for the science of animal study rather than just the raw information.  The Amazon videos just made an excellent hook to draw me to the other stuff.  Things like when Dr. Ruelas mentioned using the data to create distribution maps for the birds in the area.  Now when I see a distribution map for birds, I'll have an idea of how that was made! It's a side to science I think could really stand to be shown more.  Thank you Brain Scoop!

  25. I really like Ernesto! This also seems like a really cool field to work in – you should do another video with him if you get the chance.

  26. Wow…beautifully and wonderfully done guys! It was truly a unque and enjoyable video! I felt like I was there bird watching with you guys! And Emily sweating up a storm really translated the climate well. The bird watching through binoculars effect was awesome…but most moving of all was the sound track. Whoever matched the music is a GENIUS!

  27. When you look through binoculars, your field of view is a circle, not two circles. At least if you have adjusted it properly. Hollywood gets it wrong all the time, I accept that. But the Brainscoop? Come on….

  28. Do you compare waveforms to determine what birds you are listening to? Is there like a database of birdcalls waveforms? Or is it more of humans doing comparative listening?

  29. Thank you for all 107 seven episodes of epic learning, your manner on camera is so disarming and makes complicated subjects seem much more approachable and fun. I eagerly await your secret projects arrival. Also more Anna and animal dissections, she's funny and they're amazing to watch.

  30. Some people are saying that the music is too loud, but isn't to keep the jump cuts from being too jarring? When you've got that much natural soundtrack I think we would notice it a lot and so the continuity of the music helps. I happen to think the music they chose is gorgeous as well. So, yeah just my two cents 🙂

  31. I really love this channel, i came here for my morning coffee video and now 3 hours later i know more about the amazon then ever 😀 Man, I want to know cool things and be around animals for a living. Yo Emily, thanks for the inspirations :p

  32. Great video! This type of research is really very important. Two things, though: first, it would be nice to leave a version of this video without the music, which is distracting; and second, he could try to use a dish microphone, it is specially good for recording birds. Congrats on the amazing channel! Cheers!

  33. So is Amazonia part of the Amazon rainforest? If not, where is it? Sorry for the dumb questions

  34. lol @ getting bird calls and insect noises mixed up because I've done that too. I've also thought certain frogs were birds or insects before too.

  35. The addition of the piano music with the diegetic sounds is so seamless. Love it. Thank you so much for the great editing Tom. Thanks to emily as well- Love the bird calls too! I'm from the tropics in asia and its priceless to see/hear the biodiversity of another tropical rainforest like this.

  36. Jealous of the places you are exploring!
    Walking in the woods… there is nothing else like it.
    Love watching and listening to the birds; spending almost all my life, including growing up, in the woods with them being the main sounds… MOAR BIRDS! YAY!

  37. This is the first video from Peru that I've wished I was there! The animals in the other ones have freaked me out! I do not like bats…

  38. oh bollocks. nice idea can you do 10 minute compilation of birdcalls and nicest sounds from forets in one long psy video lol

  39. This is just too good. I'm sitting in front of my TV quietly sniffing because I'm tearing up just watching you, listening to you. Thank you!

  40. I loved this video! The Loredo area of the Amazon around Iquitos is my favorite place on earth. Wondering if you were in that region of Peru?

  41. Emily if u read this I want to thank you for helping me learn this is my 4th year of watching ur channel

  42. Please get rid of the distracting and irrelevant and mediocre music! We want to hear NATURAL sounds in the rainforest.

  43. Anyone know the name of the bird that makes that distinctive high pitched call at around 6:05 when Emily says "I'm really sweaty"? I hear it in so many footages of tropical settings and I'm dying to know what is making that noise!

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