Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

January 1983


From Cranes of the World by Paul A. Johnsgard (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1983; electronic edition: Lincoln, NE, 2008). Copyright © 1983 Paul A. Johnsgard.


Of all avian sounds, few have the power to catch the human imagination and thrill the senses as much as does the bugling of a flock of distant cranes. Leopold (1949) referred to the progressively louder sounds of an approaching flock of sandhill cranes as “a tinkling of little bells,” the “baying of some sweet-throated hound,” and finally as “a pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries.” The Greeks called it “iangling,” and most recent writers have compared the calls of typical Grus cranes to trumpets or bugles. In doing so, they have inadvertently drawn attention to the similarity of the calls to the sounds generated by musical instruments, and it is important to investigate the similarities and dissimilarities between the vocalizations of cranes and the sounds generated from man-made musical instruments.

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