Intimidating Duets – ©Creation Moments

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) ©©J.J. Harrison

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) ©©J.J. Harrison

“… and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low…” Ecclesiastes 12:4b

Precision in communication is highly important. This is especially true of the type of communication called music, whether you are talking about Mozart or magpie-larks.

Only about three percent of bird species are known to sing duets. In a duet, one mate begins singing, and the other mate begins a half second later. Among Australian magpie-larks, pairs that are newly mated usually lack that precision. However, in pairs that have been together for two years, the lag time of the duet usually varies by only a few hundredths of a second.

Researchers also discovered that this precision serves a purpose. Male magpie-larks respond to perceived threats by increasing their singing. When they played the less-precise duets to 12 pairs of other magpie-larks, the males only responded in this way seven times in five minutes. However, the more-precise duets resulted in nine responses in five minutes. In short, other magpie-larks are more intimidated by pairs that sing with precision than by those who do not. This is important in preserving an established couple’s territory from invasion by new couples.

Communication with precision is yet another fingerprint of God on the creation. In Scripture, the ultimate in precise communication, God even points us to the birds as He urges us to recognize His involvement in the creation.


Thank You, Father, for taking care of all Your creation and especially for sending Your Son to save me. Amen.

Science News, 6/9/07, p. 357, S. Milius, “Scary Singing.” Photo: Female magpie-lark. Courtesy of J.J. Harrison. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  ©Creation Moments 2014

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) by W Kwong

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) by W Kwong

Lee’s Addition:

By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:12 NKJV)

Magpie-larks are members of the Monarchs – Monarchidae Family, which has 99 species in it. There are only two larks in this family:

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
Torrent-lark (Grallina bruijnii) WorldBirds – Photos

Here is a sound recording from xeno-canto of a duet.