High-Speed Bird Communication Is Complex | The Institute for Creation Research
High-Speed Bird Communication Is Complex
High-speed creature communication has been making the news recently. There was underwater research on deep-sea squid,1 and now bird communication. In fact, the rapid signaling discovered in the honeyeater bird is all part of an intricate multi-part message that has scientists in awe at both its rapidity and complexity.2

The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium sized birds mostly found in Australia and New Guinea. When a honeyeater is threated with a predator, such as a hawk, it gives out an alarm call in the blink of an eye. Researchers have analyzed this life-saving message in detail and uncovered a level of rapid-fire complexity never realized before.

When a hawk has spotted a honeyeater it wants for lunch, it will swoop down at a very high velocity on its target. The honeyeater has only a split second to flee to for cover. This fraction of a second makes the difference between life and death. During this brief time point, the honeyeater is not only engaging in rapid evasive maneuvering, but is giving out a two-stage alarm to warn its buddies.

Other types of animals are also known to signal urgent danger using repeated sounds, but often take a longer amount of time to deliver. The problem facing the honeyeater is how to make a lightning-fast information-rich message to benefit the other birds while staying alive at the same time. Fortunately, God has hardwired such programming and linguistic ability into the bodies and behavior of this bird.

When the honeyeater gives out this important message, it “front-loads” the information concerning urgency into the first note of the alarm call, allowing other honeyeaters to respond quickly and take cover. Then the honeyeater tags on more specific notes to reinforce the message and signal information to the others on how long they need to remain hidden. And these messages will get longer with more notes in direct relationship to the level of threat.

Evolutionists are at a loss to explain how this highly sophisticated rapid-fire adaptive communication trait within a complex social context could have arisen through random evolutionary processes. A complex multi-level trait like this would involve hundreds of genes to produce the sound producing and sound receiving systems (organs) in the bird. Plus, these birds need the built-in ability to recognize and decode the sophisticated messages. These amazingly sophisticated trait systems can only be the work of an all-powerful Creator that engineered these honeyeaters in the beginning.

References
1. Tomkins, J.P. Deep Water Squid Communication Mystifies Scientists. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org March 27, 2020, accessed April 1, 2020.
2. Potvin, D.A. et al. 2018. Birds Learn Socially to Recognize Heterospecific Alarm Calls by Acoustic Association. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.013.

*Dr. Tomkins is Life Sciences Director at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in genetics from Clemson University.
The Latest
NEWS
Fossil Chromatin Looks Young
What are the odds that a buried animal would still have intact DNA after 125 million years? Researchers publishing in the journal Communications Biology...

NEWS
Inside October 2021 Acts & Facts
How is the Lord’s handiwork on display at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park? Does the universe look old? What can we learn about science and...

NEWS
Two-Volume Series: Restoring the Truth about Origins
The subject of origins continues to attract interest from the public and the scientific establishment. Understanding our origins informs us of who we are...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Floods Form Fossils Fast
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
A Battle for Hearts
Since the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History opened in fall of 2019, tens of thousands of people have walked through our doors. They...

APOLOGETICS
Eating Bugs Isn't Always So Simple
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves glory for why He made Earth’s diverse creatures, and He also deserves glory for the complicated details of how...

ACTS & FACTS
Does the Universe Look Old?
Since distant galaxies are billions of light-years away, some understandably assume that distant starlight must have taken billions of years to reach...

ACTS & FACTS
Hawaii Behind the Scenes
ICR Research Scientist Dr. Brian Thomas and ICR Video Producer Clint Loveness, with help from friends and family, recently shot footage in Maui, Hawaii,...

ACTS & FACTS
Mutation, Design, and Faith
Any alteration in a cell’s DNA sequence is a mutation. These changes can come from copying errors, exposure to chemicals or radiation, or from...

ACTS & FACTS
Another Function of 'Junk DNA' Discovered
For decades, evolutionists suggested that huge sections of our genome (about half) did not actively code for the production of proteins or polypeptides—and...