Claim: Zebra finch call prepares their eggs for climate change

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. By Keith Gerstung from McHenry, IL, United States – Niagara Falls AviaryUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the AAAS, Zebra Finches are helping their hatchlings respond to global warming, by singing to their eggs.

Video: Zebra finch call prepares their eggs for climate change

Scientists have long worried whether animals can respond to the planet’s changing climate. Now, a new study reports that at least one species of songbird—and likely many more—already knows how to prep its chicks for a warming world. They do so by emitting special calls to the embryos inside their eggs, which can hear and learn external sounds. This is the first time scientists have found animals using sound to affect the growth, development, behavior, and reproductive success of their offspring, and adds to a growing body of research revealing that birds can “doctor” their eggs.

“The study is novel, surprising, and fascinating, and is sure to lead to much more work on parent-embryo communication,” says Robert Magrath, a behavioral ecologist at the Australian National University in Canberra who was not involved in the study.

The idea that the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) parents were “talking to their eggs” occurred to Mylene Mariette, a behavioral ecologist at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, Australia, while recording the birds’ sounds at an outdoor aviary. She noticed that sometimes when a parent was alone, it would make a rapid, high-pitched series of calls while sitting on the eggs. Mariette and her co-author, Katherine Buchanan, recorded the incubation calls of 61 female and 61 male finches inside the aviary. They found that parents of both sexes uttered these calls only during the end of the incubation period and when the maximum daily temperature rose above 26°C (78.8°F).

Read more:

The following is the study referenced by the press release;

Prenatal acoustic communication programs offspring for high posthatching temperatures in a songbird

In many species, embryos can perceive and learn external sounds. Yet, the possibility that parents may use these embryonic capacities to alter their offspring’s developmental trajectories has not been considered. Here, we demonstrate that zebra finch parents acoustically signal high ambient temperatures (above 26°C) to their embryos. We show that exposure of embryos to these acoustic cues alone adaptively alters subsequent nestling begging and growth in response to nest temperature and influences individuals’ reproductive success and thermal preferences as adults. These findings have implications for our understanding of maternal effects, phenotypic plasticity, developmental programming, and the adaptation of endothermic species to a warming world.

Read more (Paywalled):

Bird calls influencing the growth and behaviour of hatchlings is a fascinating discovery, if the result is repeatable.

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August 18, 2016 9:16 pm

“Bird calls influencing the growth and behaviour of hatchlings is a fascinating discovery, if the result is repeatable.”
But why do they assume it a response to climate change?

Reply to  yam
August 18, 2016 9:24 pm

Cash, I would think . .

Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 3:58 am


Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 6:30 am

WWF told them.

Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 8:44 am

If this effect were true, it would be an astounding discovoery, with far reaching implications in many areas.
The fact that the final word of abstract is to link this to “a warming world” makes me think it’s bullshit.
If it has any substance it would stand on its own and would be hailed as a major discovery.

Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 8:46 am

Gavin Schmitt has been trying to warn future generations about global warming by tweeting too …. bird brain.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 11:02 am

If I had to guess, the “climate change” link was added to increase the likelihood of grant renewal.

Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 2:14 pm

August 19, 2016 at 3:58 am
+22 for me.

george e. smith
Reply to  JohnKnight
August 19, 2016 5:59 pm

I think I will get myself a PhD in Zebra Finch Psychiatry so I can listen in on their instructions to the embryos.
I wonder what the embryos would do, if you played some Mozart to them instead. Or how about some nice French Cesar Franck Organ music; that would wake them up to catch the early worm that gets the bird.

Reply to  JohnKnight
August 20, 2016 8:58 am

@ Greg,
What the “she” researchers are claiming is NOT true.
Those two “she” researchers Mylene Mariette and Katherine Buchanan have determined that Zebra finch parents are capable of preparing their eggs (or is it the embryos therein) for climate change.
And said “parent preparing” was done so by, to wit:

“She” noticed that sometimes when a parent was alone, it would make a rapid, high-pitched series of calls while sitting on the eggs.

So, when one of the parents was sitting all alone on a nest-full of eggs ….. it would noninfrequently “chirp-out” a rapid, high-pitched series of calls.
Well “DUH”, just why was the parent sitting on the nest atop of all the eggs iffen it was actually trying to “chirp-out” a climate changing message to all the embryos inside of the eggs underneath her/him?
And oh my oh my, …. this one is an even stranger/weirder claim, to wit:

Here, we demonstrate that zebra finch parents acoustically signal high ambient temperatures (above 26°C) to their embryos

Why would those two “she” researchers be citing “daily ambient temperatures”, which are a functional result of local weather conditions, ….. as being the “determiner” of future climate changes?
HA, most anyone with a little common sense about the natural world could tell those two “she” researchers that those …. rapid, high-pitched series of calls being uttered by the “nest-sitting” parent was to inform the other parent to get it’s arse “back to the nest” because the one sitting there was getting too hot and in need of a drink of water and a bite to eat.
Without good reason, nest-sitting birds in the wild, very seldom, if ever, make any noise, tweeting or otherwise, ….. simply because that would be a sure way of “attracting” a predator.

Mick In The Hills
Reply to  yam
August 19, 2016 2:35 am

It’s more likely to be a reaction to a huge goanna ponderously making its way towards a smorgasbord of warm-ish fresh eggs (26C).
The bigger the goanna, the higher pitched the cheeps.
(I once witnessed a Pommy tourist do the same thing as a goanna took a fancy to her sandwiches)

Greg Woods
Reply to  yam
August 19, 2016 3:53 am

What is wrong with them? Don’t they know that we have reached the Tipping Point, and the End is near, very near?

NW sage
Reply to  Greg Woods
August 19, 2016 3:54 pm

Ahhh… the End is near – but the question remains: WHICH END?

Ben of Houston
Reply to  yam
August 19, 2016 5:55 am

It sounds like a standard link-everything-to-climate-change that we’ve seen for years now. Connect it to the current fad to draw dollars from it.
However, pre-natal responses to sound are quite interesting on their own.

Reply to  yam
August 19, 2016 11:12 am

Lack of perspective. Birds are the descendants of dinosaurs, their linage has been through hothouse to ice ages and back again. Of course they have adaptions to climate change already in place. As do human beings, forty some environmental markers in our genome identified so far, arctic, desert, high-altitude, et al.

Reply to  LarryD
August 19, 2016 11:54 pm

Unless you figure brand new life began rather recently, it makes little sense to speak of this or that particular creature line having “been through” anything any other creature line has not, it seems to me, Larry.

Reply to  yam
August 19, 2016 10:55 pm

It’s so easy to get your research funded if you can utter the magic words!

John Harmsworth
Reply to  yam
August 20, 2016 8:03 am

A little bird brain told them!

Tom Halla
August 18, 2016 9:18 pm

But what song do the finches use in cold weather? Does that song change the behavior of the nestlings?

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 19, 2016 2:46 am

it’s not a sound you’ll ever hear (as oddly, they do not nest when it’s cold)
Such are the mysteries of the world (casts wide eyes around, sweeping hand dramatically across the landscape for effect).

Tom O
Reply to  Karl
August 19, 2016 8:21 am

I believe the intent of the comment was if it is colder than normal during mating season. They do mate during mating season, regardless of the temperatures, I believe.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 19, 2016 4:00 am

That question is a real “Song of a finch” as they say in circles where they say such things.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 19, 2016 5:54 am

If the parents don’t sing, does the hatchling just stay in the egg?

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 19, 2016 8:38 am

Maybe they are singing songs of divestment. Lol.

August 18, 2016 9:24 pm

Recording of the birdsong in question:

Reply to  TjW
August 19, 2016 6:17 am


Dan Hawkins
Reply to  TjW
August 19, 2016 11:02 am

Holy smoke!
Thanks for that video, TjW.

August 18, 2016 9:36 pm

That’s great, so we now understand their speech! What else are they talking about, apart from Global Warming?

Reply to  Bob
August 18, 2016 10:12 pm


Reply to  Bob
August 18, 2016 10:43 pm

Kim Kardishan’s outfits?

August 18, 2016 9:41 pm

I read the full article. I’ll wait for someone like Jim Steele to weigh in. But for the moment, let’s take it at face value.
The researchers are postulating that warmer temps cause the birds to modify their off spring to cope with warmer temps. Presuming that this is an evolutionary trait, and given that evolution cannot respond to future conditions, only past conditions, we have to also presume that the birds’ evolutionary history includes times when the earth was as warm or warmer than it is now. In other words, current conditions are not unprecedented.
The alternative to that would be to consider that the birds are capable of predicting the future and deciding what to do about it. I’m skeptical, they are after all, blessed with bird brains. Could be worse. They could have super computers.

Eugene WR Gallun
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 18, 2016 10:48 pm

davidmhoffer —
“I’m skeptical, they are after all, blessed with bird brains. Could be worse. They could have super computers.”
You win funniest post hands down.
Eugene WR Gallun

Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 19, 2016 6:35 am

David, singing is normal
The birds stop singing when it gets cold….below 80F
The opposite of what they are spinning

Pop Piasa
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 19, 2016 7:29 am

David, isn’t what you described quite a bit like Lysenko’s take on genetics?

August 18, 2016 9:52 pm

Thats all we need, an automatic flying temperature sensor letting us all know that its 26c or above.
Isnt nature wonderful.

george e. smith
Reply to  birdynumnum
August 19, 2016 6:03 pm

Yes but it is not a fast enough temperature response to alert them to avoid the Ivanpah chicken cooker.

August 18, 2016 10:03 pm

“The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata [formerly Poephila guttata]),[2] is the most common estrildid finch of Central Australia and ranges over most of the continent, avoiding only the cool moist south and some areas of the tropical far north.”
That’s a wide range of temperature conditions. Warrum Ponds is listed as being in or near Geelong, Victoria. It would seem to be towards the southern extremity of range.

August 18, 2016 10:07 pm

I read this on awhile ago. As near as I can tell this is the most outstanding example of grant pandering I’ve seen yet.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Bartleby
August 19, 2016 5:59 am

Which is sad since it seems fascinating. Not only did they identify the meaning of a specific bird call, but they bird’s growth actively responds to it. There’s no need for the transparent climate connection.

High Treason
August 18, 2016 10:08 pm

Another BS meter blown up. “Climate” and “change” together mean absolutely nothing without a qualifying pronoun. You do have to wonder how they know that the birds are singing about “climate change.” Perhaps they are singing about what a pack of fools humans are to believe such utter garbage.

Reply to  High Treason
August 19, 2016 6:48 am

Birds don’t live long enough to experience climate change, even if the climate is changing.

August 18, 2016 10:09 pm

Uh, if not a one of us can change our height, I doubt bird embryos can control their development by hearing Ma and Pa talking to them.

Reply to  4TimesAYear
August 18, 2016 10:28 pm

How do they know its Ma and Pa and not Grandma or Aunt Goldfinch with her crackpot ideas?
How do they know they are Zebra finches in the first place?
Also to them, whats a zebra or even a finch?
Attempts to humanise the animal kingdom produces some strange efforts from humans.

Reply to  birdynumnum
August 19, 2016 1:51 am

Yes, that’s what I was thinking – anthropomorphism, lol.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  4TimesAYear
August 19, 2016 6:03 am

That’s why if it does work, it’s so interesting. This indicates that they can willfully change their growth pattern (if such a word can be used for finches), similar to pulling or pushing a muscle.
If I understand the non-paywalled section correctly, the response was to the birdcall alone. That’s not Lamarkism, that’s an unknown mechanism they haven’t seen before.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Ben of Houston
August 20, 2016 8:18 am

Hold your horses there! It’s no such thing. What it is, is about the stupidest research conclusion I’ve ever seen!
A)- The chicks are inside an egg and under a parent so they don’t know what the ambient temp is.
B)- It is hazardous to the chick to hatch when it is too cool
C)The parent tells the chick when hatching conditions are optimal
What an unbelievable pile of bovine excrement! Why do people think they can do science when they aren’t even capable of logical thought?

JLC of Perth
August 18, 2016 10:19 pm

Pregnant women used to gaze at paintings of beautiful people so that their babies would be beautiful. That make as much sense as this birdsong theory.

Reply to  JLC of Perth
August 18, 2016 11:31 pm

My mother did that & it worked…’s the proof

Reply to  1saveenergy
August 19, 2016 3:33 am

Wow, I didn’t realise you were female !

August 18, 2016 10:23 pm

Perhaps the warmer conditions means the chick will hatch. The parents are making ‘happy’ noises because the chore of incubating will be over.
That or another thousand possible reasons.

Eugene WR Gallun
August 18, 2016 10:36 pm

Birds modifying their eggs by chirping is LYSENKOISM.– environment altering genetic inheritance.
The author of this probably talks to plants and believes in playing Bach to babies in the womb to produce a future musician.
The stupidity, it burns.
Eugene WR Gallun

Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 18, 2016 11:58 pm

Actually (no, seriously) talking to plants can help them, breathing gobs of nice, warm, humid CO2 at them and their little stoma or whatever those things are. Not at all stupid, then, that Barmy Prince Charlie talks to his plants. It’s a good idea.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 20, 2016 8:20 am

Yeah but now Charles has the IQ of a geranium.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 19, 2016 11:19 am

This is not necessarily Lysenkoism. It is not immediately apparent that sound cannot affect embryonic development.

Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 19, 2016 12:27 pm

Alligators use nesting temperature to determine the sex of their hatchlings. It is not outside the realm of possibility that sounds could also influence fetal development.

Reply to  MarkW
August 20, 2016 11:26 am

Mark proposes: “It is not outside the realm of possibility that sounds could also influence fetal development.”
In fact, there’s an entire lab at Princeton (called the PEAR Lab, fellow named Robert Jahn, I guess they have a large closet under the stairs) devoted to quantifying the Heisenberg principal central to quantum mechanics. Their hypothesis is that consciousness directly influences the physical world in measurable ways and they claim to have measured it.
So birds sing and it effects embryo development. Right up their alley.

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 20, 2016 7:06 am

Environment may not determine genetic inheritance – actually the jury is still out on that – but it can definitely effect embryonic development.

Eugene WR Gallun
August 18, 2016 10:40 pm

Query? — Was Prince Charles a co-author of this study?
Eugene WR Gallun

Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 18, 2016 10:48 pm

Thanks Eugene! I am glad key boards are cheap!

David Chappell
Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 19, 2016 7:09 am

No, he was a Patron.

August 18, 2016 10:43 pm

Are we to believe that Zebra Finches never made these types of calls before the era of global warming? That sure is some fast evolution at work there. But what do the embryos inside the eggs do in response to these calls, flip the air-conditioning switch to on?

August 18, 2016 10:50 pm

The red beaked one looks totally embarrassed after “tweeting” the article.

Reply to  asybot
August 18, 2016 10:51 pm

Maybe it wasn’t his egg?

John in Oz
August 18, 2016 11:04 pm

Maybe, at 26C, they are singing “Oh what a beautiful morning” and advising the embryo that the world is warming up (at last) and that their lives will be far better than their parents, who have had to suffer cooler temperatures until now.
A follow-up study could be on how they survived the Little Ice Age?

Reply to  John in Oz
August 19, 2016 2:00 pm

The only thing they really need tell them is “Watch out for the windmills”.

August 18, 2016 11:08 pm

And how many generations of finches were observed, tracked and extensively documented?
Peer reviewed.
The whole lot should be paid in bird seed. Or maybe they already are paid in hemp seeds?
Brian Cox should have waved the intelligent finches graph around and demonstrated the nurturing finch call warning the chicks to pack shades, bikinis and thongs.

August 18, 2016 11:14 pm

Here’s what puzzles me. How are these finches able to tell the difference between global warming and regional warming from inside their aviary home? That’s a neat trick if they can do it. Did past temperatures never get above 78.8°F in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada? Is 80°F really that unprecedented for that region?
I really doubt these song birds care if the globe is warming or just their surrounding neighborhood. They probably respond to warm temperatures just as they have for thousands of years. Is there any evidence this is a new behavior?

Reply to  Louis
August 19, 2016 12:02 am

They have the grant papers to prove it. Give them enough money and they’ll present iron-clad evidence in the form of models proving that fairies have, indeed, been at the bottom of their garden.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 19, 2016 1:18 am

Fairies at the bottom of the garden are as true as CAGW
for proof see this peer reviewed paper

August 18, 2016 11:25 pm

This gives a whole new definition to the term “Bird Brain”…

August 18, 2016 11:41 pm


Peter Miller
August 19, 2016 12:37 am

Is there anything ‘global warming’ doesn’t cause?

Reply to  Peter Miller
August 19, 2016 5:45 am

Ingrowing toenails.
But if you send me grant money I’ll prove that is caused by GW as well.

Steve Case
August 19, 2016 1:29 am

Bird song varies with the temperature gets translated into birds can predict climate change.
Hmmmm maybe they can predict the stock market too.

Reply to  Steve Case
August 19, 2016 5:58 am

Maybe we should use birds instead of climate models?

Green Sand
August 19, 2016 2:02 am

Back in the 1950’s my brother kept Zebra finches, outdoor aviary in Lancashire. They used to sing about brass monkeys.

Dodgy Geezer
August 19, 2016 2:31 am

Now that we have found a species which is able to effectively direct pre-natal environmentalist propaganda, I propose a Zebra Finch for next head of the IPCC,….

roy hartwell
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
August 19, 2016 2:37 am

Now I understand….. The ‘S’ in AAAS stands for ‘ Stupidity’

michael hart
August 19, 2016 3:00 am

OK, so now it’s “the zebra finch in the coalmine”. Whatever.

Reply to  michael hart
August 19, 2016 8:22 am

Or “the zebra finch in the wind turbine factory.”

August 19, 2016 3:08 am

It has been alleged by credible sources that 1/2 of the scientific literature is false. I think that these experts are being far too generous. I would wager that almost all of the scientific literature is false in some way.
The “scientists” are completely blinded by a worldview and bend their results to match said bias.
This article highlights a perfect example. Birds singing modifies the eggs of offspring because of “global warming” when there has been no global warming. Do the damn birds read the alarmist newspapers? They sure don’t feel any warming as there has been none.

At least the paper is behind a paywall. The fewer that read such codswallop the better.

Reply to  markstoval
August 19, 2016 8:16 am

Actually, 92.65% of all statistics are made up.

Reply to  Timo (not that one)
August 20, 2016 2:59 am

And that’s 86% of the time, too!

Reply to  Timo (not that one)
August 20, 2016 11:43 am

68% of the time. You got the numbers reversed.

August 19, 2016 3:15 am

Apparently if you put “climate change” or “global warming” in a grant proposal you can study anything you like, as long as the results support AGW. And of course, the results, even if they are bird-brained, ALWAYS support AGW.

August 19, 2016 3:21 am

What’s going on here?
Are academic papers being pinned to the wall and a squirt pistol loaded with concentrated Climate Change Solution used to spray them? Or is it more like skunk marking, where scientists are evolving a tumescent Climate Change Gland which causes great discomfort, then great relief when it is used to spray references to CC into their papers?
What ever the circumstances surrounding these odd gland secretions, I’m sure the natural cycle of climate change gland-spraying will itself be revealed to be affected by climate change.

August 19, 2016 3:26 am

BBC is doing this story in the US as I write this. They are calling it The Heat Song.
No wonder the people are so stupid on the subject. They live in a vortex of propaganda.

Reply to  markstoval
August 19, 2016 4:06 am

How do we separate propaganda from “education”. Can we?
Once, when I attended a high school graduation of a rather arrogant grandchild, I told him that half of what he had learned in school was wrong and he would not be really educated until he knew which half.
I realized I was grossly overestimating education.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  AllanJ
August 19, 2016 6:13 am

Don’t forget that there are basics. The Alphabet and Arithmetic.
Plus, there are many things where they have to go through the human understanding era by era. You can’t divide by zero in elementary school. You can in upper algebra once you understand the concept of infinity and cancellations. Similarly, you can’t get to Einstein until you first learn Newton.
Finally, history is a wash of half-truths that you can understand more and more of over time. I’ve learned not that my education was wrong, but that it was far less complete than I had ever dreamed.

Greg Woods
August 19, 2016 4:06 am

Now cicadas are a different story: They really can tell the temperature….

Chris D.
August 19, 2016 4:12 am

I haven’t read the whole thing, but apparently, all they’ve done is observe a simple correlation. Now, someone needs to conduct some actual science, and set up an experiment to test the hypothesis.

NW sage
Reply to  Chris D.
August 19, 2016 4:02 pm

Not an experiment — we need a new MODEL, preferably on a very expensive computer! No need to validate the model though, we have already decided what the results will be.

August 19, 2016 4:21 am

Well I haven’t paid to read the full paper, but I would have thought that the parent bird chirping above 26c is an unnecessary extra postulation of a causal step than the egg itself simply expereincing ambient temperatures of 26c and above.
I would be heartened if they did a control study which looked at what happened if the egg were exposed to high temperature chirping but kept below 26c. Maybe they did? Can anyone tell me?

Reply to  Richard
August 19, 2016 4:24 am

Doh! Of course, birds incubate their eggs. Next time think before typing Richard!!!

CR Carlson
August 19, 2016 5:07 am

This is science?
Birds in general incubate eggs close to our body temps, although their body temps are higher. Incubating to keep temps close to 37C is ideal for many species, but it’s important to not let the sun overheat them as well, so shading the eggs is done too. From the article I post below the finches try to maintain 35C according to a study done in Victoria. Also, as per many species, they wait until the last egg is laid to begin true incubation.

Dave O.
Reply to  CR Carlson
August 19, 2016 5:12 am

Another “scientific” study.

CR Carlson
Reply to  Dave O.
August 19, 2016 5:17 am

Yep. They certainly are persistent.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  CR Carlson
August 19, 2016 10:28 am

CR, your link says it’s known that birds communicate – not with eggs but with partners :
‘Vocal negotiation over parental care? Acoustic communication at the nest predicts partners’ incubation share’
There’s really something bad with peer review.

Jeff Id
August 19, 2016 5:08 am

So birds apparently have body thermometers sensitive enough to detect global temperature changes on the order of tenths of a degree and then have the ability to react to those minute temperature changes?
Fascinating. Peer review at its finest.

Reply to  Jeff Id
August 19, 2016 9:21 am

Yeah, it’s something the species evolved to give them a survival advantage. In case they need it…

August 19, 2016 5:17 am

Singing that GCM project they should not plan on roosting near the present-day coastline, as by 2100 it will be two meters underwater.

August 19, 2016 5:34 am

I don’t believe they found the Zebra Finch Rosetta Stone, so their interpretation is BS. However, sounds we hear entrain our brain waves. It is claimed that a 4hz tone causes a 4hz brain wave response. This has been used in meditation for a few decades now.

NW sage
Reply to  stevekeohane
August 19, 2016 4:13 pm

Actually the opposite – ‘they’ HAVE found the Zebra Finch Rosetta Stone, and it is hidden behind the paywall so no one will look there for it.

August 19, 2016 5:37 am

Oh, it is only taxpayers’ money.

August 19, 2016 5:39 am

Baby birds are susceptible to cold temperatures. Wouldn’t it make sense that they have evolved a way to tell the chick whether it is safe to hatch? I think most people will realize this has nothing to do with AGW and it will just serve to dilute their message.

Reply to  RH
August 19, 2016 5:47 am

Exactly, birds don’t like hatching in a cold wave except maybe emperor penguins.

August 19, 2016 5:41 am

I used to raise and sell zebra finches in Arizona years ago. I have raised many birds. ALL birds often ‘vocalize’ to the eggs as the babies are about to hatch! And the warmer it is, the more ‘talk’ there is. NOT because warm is evil or to ‘prepare them for heat’ but because the birds are HAPPY. Zebra finches like chickens, love hot weather.

CR Carlson
Reply to  emsnews
August 19, 2016 5:59 am

Indeed the adult birds do a lot of vocalizing. With the many live nest cameras now placed near many species this parental vocalizing can be seen and heard and the soon to hatch and the pipping stage birds begin vocalizing as well which can sometimes be heard if the nest cam’s have good audio, with parents sort of encouraging them perhaps (anthropomorphic projection here, lol).

Reply to  emsnews
August 19, 2016 6:39 am

exactly, they stop singing when it gets cold

Reply to  emsnews
August 19, 2016 1:12 pm

Has a study been done on why zebra finches only like chickens but love hot weather?

August 19, 2016 5:49 am

Birds can “doctor” their birds by singing. Well, how do you know what the effect is if you don’t know what it was before, or what the actual changes are due to the singing.
Basically, this is a “thought” paper parading as science that is trying to ride the coat tails of Climate Change because everything is “caused” by climate change without any actually effects of that cause observed.

Tom Judd
August 19, 2016 6:04 am

Seems to me I’ve read about several of these novel and surprising finch studies before.
Back in the 1960s researchers were studying whether finch calls to their eggs determined nuclear radiation levels.
Back in the early 1970s researchers were studying whether finch calls to their eggs determined the existence of God or Hare Krishna supporters at airports.
Back in the late 1970s, early ’80s, researchers were studying whether finch calls to their eggs represented repressed memory syndrome or finchling abuse.
Back in the 1980s researchers were studying whether finch calls to their eggs demonstrated the potential for cocaine use.
Back in the 1990s researchers were studying whether finch calls to their eggs represented teenage finch oral s.e.x.
And now, in the new millenium researchers are studying whether finch calls to their eggs …

August 19, 2016 6:12 am

..Alas poor honorable science, I knew you well….before liberal Alarmists butchered you !!

August 19, 2016 6:14 am

“…high ambient temperatures (above 26°C)…”
So, anytime we record a temp above 26°C we can expect the climate to change?!

Bruce Cobb
August 19, 2016 6:25 am

I trust they are also warning them of the coming invasion by space aliens. Because that would be irresponsible parenting if they didn’t.

August 19, 2016 6:37 am

Actually, knowing my finches, they are discussing how to escape their cages.

Jeff in Calgary
August 19, 2016 6:53 am

OK, so apparently the birds only sing the particular song when temps really have 26°C. I would like to know how often it reached that temp? Daily, most days? Maybe the song had more to do with time of day? Or maybe it is the finch’s way of saying ‘Dang! It’s hot!’

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 19, 2016 7:02 am

In Chile and California, birds are preparing for an earthquake. In the UK, they are preparing for brexit. In Syria, they are preparing for Russian bombs. In Japan and Thailand birds are preparing for tsunami.

John Boles
August 19, 2016 7:21 am

Alarmists are only capable of seeing everything thru a lens of global warming, to them everything must relate to GW and grant money too. the claim of the paper is absurd.

August 19, 2016 7:36 am

..And here I thought mine were just reading the New York Times at the bottom of their cage !!

Pop Piasa
August 19, 2016 7:36 am

The most ridiculous sentence to me was ” Scientists have long worried whether animals can respond to the planet’s changing climate.”
It should continue “…but not near as long as animals have been adapting successfully to climate.”
Perhaps worry is not the indicated form of study here.

August 19, 2016 7:48 am

In this case I don’t think the phrase “Bird-brain” applies to the Zebra Finches.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Andrew Harding
August 19, 2016 4:46 pm

Perhaps that is true of Hummingbirds also. We have a feeder outside the kitchen window and when it is empty or one of the others in the yard is empty, they watch for us to be at the sink and hover at the glass to get our attention, even when only the ant mote is out of water (they drink the water). I should catch it with my phone video.

August 19, 2016 7:53 am

I waited until I was fully awake with both coffee and a soda in me, am now eating early lunch and STILL I don’t understand how the author of that article wasn’t stabbed in the throat for wasting money.

Joe Crawford
August 19, 2016 8:18 am

“” The idea that the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) parents were “talking to their eggs” occurred to Mylene Mariette, a behavioral ecologist at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, Australia, while recording the birds’ sounds at an outdoor aviary…
…Mariette and her co-author, Katherine Buchanan, recorded the incubation calls of 61 female and 61 male finches inside the aviary.””
I thought California had first dibs on all the fruits and nuts, especially those in the pseudo sciences. How did they miss out on those two.

NW sage
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 19, 2016 4:16 pm

The Aussies made a better offer?

August 19, 2016 8:36 am

This is a half-step shy of the Lamarckian doctrine of ‘soft inheritance’.
Sometime, in the foreseeable future, a LOT of ‘scientific’ journals and societies are going to have to explain a lot of their publications and apologize for the bad science they have published.

Reply to  tadchem
August 19, 2016 9:05 am

Actually, it turns out lamarkian ‘evolution’ (really phenotype adaptation) also takes place, via epigenetics. Worth reading about. Is fairly new molecular biology, but now quite well established including underlyting mechanisms like methylation in expression regulation regions (formerly thought to be ‘junk’ DNA) and DNA differential coiling. Coral budding adaptation (as opposed to spawning, the Darwin evolution mechanism) is one example response to delta water temperature and salinity. This on top of symbiont exchange via transitory coral bleaching, also something not well understood until recently.

August 19, 2016 9:01 am

The researchers say nothing about climate change they merely say the adult birds sing a different song depending on temperature, thats it. Stop writing ninsense

Reply to  Dave
August 19, 2016 9:27 am

Quote….”Scientists have long worried whether animals can respond to the planet’s changing climate.”..That is the very first line..Who is talking “nonsense” ?? Changing climate = “Climate Change”..

Reply to  Dave
August 19, 2016 9:38 am

Of course your criticism is directed at sources such as and other GW proxies that are reporting exactly that.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Arbeegee
August 19, 2016 5:11 pm

LOL, when I tried to inform someone I know that there is no real CO2 emergency, he responded “You don’t read National Geographic, do you?” I said “No, I read the papers the articles in NG are based on, whenever I can. But I also read many more.” He still tuned me out, but it was a great counter-jab that made him all the more furious that I didn’t “believe” so his counter was “You can believe what you want I guess”.

Brian R
August 19, 2016 9:17 am

I didn’t think that anthropomorphizing animal behavior was worthy of publication. It boggles the mind to think that a paper like this actually made it through pal, er, peer review.

August 19, 2016 9:18 am

Taken at face value, it is good news and further proof that Nature can handle anything man can throw at it. On second thought, pfffft.

August 19, 2016 9:27 am

Finch live about 5 years, not long enough for them to gather any reliable trend data, so i doubt they would know the difference between warming and cooling outside of seasonal variability. Furthermore, if they were somehow aware that the earth was about to boil why waste their time bring up kids? Surely there would be a party to go to…

Reply to  Dave
August 19, 2016 1:18 pm

That’s what the chirping is: finches passing the data on so that their great-great-grandchicks will have a usable baseline for climate studies!
Where’s my grant?

Bruce Cobb
August 19, 2016 9:34 am

Expectant human mothers should take heed of this, and begin “preparing” their fetus for “climate change”, by playing recordings of Al Gore. Ya gotta start ’em young.

August 19, 2016 9:43 am

The Zebra Finches can’t, on their own, be sensing or commenting on CAGW, because CAGW and/or unprecedented warming, is not happening, so the Zebra Finches must have been exposed to the Climate Change Gurus’s propaganda, at some point in time. Someone must have shown the Zebra Finches a Hockey Stick chart, and caused them to panic and start spouting Alarmist gibberish to their eggs.
Someone ought to tell those birds about the windmill blades. They could pass that along to their offspring, too.

Robert of Texas
August 19, 2016 10:11 am

So… Alarmists who can’t seem to stop twittering about Climate Change are actually trying to change the growth development of any embryos nearby them? Who knew?
I wonder is the mother’s are OK with that?

August 19, 2016 10:11 am
Bruce Cobb
August 19, 2016 10:44 am

If the birds do it, then so are the bees. All life, in fact, must be yakking about climate. If only we had a Dr. Dolittle to tell us what they are all actually saying.

August 19, 2016 11:34 am

When my wife was pregnant our as yet unborn son used to kick quite a lot. We used to calm him down by placing a loudspeaker on her abdomen and playing him classical music. He plays the French Horn now.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Tim
August 19, 2016 1:17 pm

Payback’s a beach.

August 19, 2016 12:14 pm

I think that the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) are probably better as parents than,Mylene Mariette is a as a behavioral ecologist at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds near Geelong in Victoria, to judge by this effort. The Zebra Finch has a very long history of success as a parent to show us……Deakin University, not so much.

August 19, 2016 12:24 pm

They’re just giving the kids a weather report so they will know whether to put on the long johns before coming out to play.

F. Ross
August 19, 2016 12:24 pm

What? Are there no denier finches? No sceptics among these birdbrains?

August 19, 2016 12:37 pm

Zebra finches, like most australian birds are opportunistic breeders, i e they breed more or less continuously when conditions are good (=wet) and stop breeding when times are bad (=dry).
I should guess that their signaling to the eggs are more likely to be related to this than to temperature per se. I. e. “times are good kids, get ready to grow fast and start breeding soon” or “times are tough, no hurry, don’t waste good food”.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  tty
August 20, 2016 8:54 am

Nope! Not even close!

August 19, 2016 12:46 pm

behind the paywall
so then crickets must serenade their eggs, too, right?
degreesF = 50 + (([]-40) / 4)
This formula is accurate to within a degree or so when applied to the chirping of the field cricket.

Svend Ferdinandsen
August 19, 2016 1:28 pm

Zebra finches, is’nt that the canary in the coal mine?
It only happened above 26C, so they act like a thermometer, but have no clue of any climate change.
If i dress lighter when it is more than 26C does that mean i am aware of climate change?

August 19, 2016 6:53 pm

As the climate is not getting warmer, I would conclude that, if these researchers are correct, the parent birds are feeding their eggs propaganda, which questions the sincerity of their parenting.

August 20, 2016 7:16 am

In the wild zebra finches happily live in areas where the temperature is well above 26C for months, in fact closer to 40C.
The study was done in an aviary !
Perhaps what the finches were saying was something like……”Wow, it’s 26 degrees, not cold anymore. Wish we were well out of here and back in the bush”.

tony mcleod
August 20, 2016 1:38 pm

Brilliant trolling Eric. Masterful.

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