Project 3269: T. Riede, C. R. Olson. 2020. The vocal organ of hummingbirds shows a convergence with songbirds. Scientific Reports. 10:2007.
Specimen: Calypte costae (unvouchered)
View: Coronal section of a reconstructed syrinx


How sound is generated in the hummingbird syrinx is largely unknown despite their complex vocal behavior. To fill this gap, syrinx anatomy of four hummingbird species of the Mellisuginae tribe were investigated by histological dissection and contrast-enhanced microCT imaging, as well as measurement of vocalizations in a heliox atmosphere. The placement of the hummingbird syrinx is uniquely located in the neck rather than inside the thorax as in other birds, while the internal structure is bipartite with songbird-like anatomical features, including multiple pairs of intrinsic muscles, a robust tympanum and several accessory cartilages. Lateral labia and medial tympaniform membranes consist of an extracellular matrix containing hyaluronic acid, collagen fibers, but few elastic fibers. Their upper vocal tract, including the trachea, is shorter than predicted for their body size. There are between species differences in syrinx measurements, despite similar overall morphology. In heliox fundamental frequency is unchanged while upper-harmonic vocalizations decrease in amplitude, indicating that syringeal sounds are produced by airflow-induced labia and membrane vibration. Our findings predict that hummingbirds have fine control of labia and membrane position in the syrinx; adaptations that set them apart from closely related swifts, yet shows convergence in their vocal organs with those of oscines.

Read the article »

Article DOI:

Project DOI: 10.7934/P3269,
This project contains
  • 6 Media
  • 3 Taxa
  • 5 Specimens
Total size of project's media files: 31.1M

Download Project SDD File
Currently Viewing:
MorphoBank Project 3269

    Authors' Institutions

    • Midwestern University


    member name taxa specimens media
    Tobias Riede
    Project Administrator
    Chris Olson
    Full membership

    Project has no matrices defined.

    Project views

    type number of views Individual items viewed (where applicable)
    Total project views7557
    Project overview706
    Media views2792Media search (1406 views); M681823 (217 views); M681826 (262 views); M681822 (230 views); M681824 (230 views); M681825 (221 views); M681827 (226 views);
    Taxon list969
    Views for media list987
    Specimen list1806
    Documents list3

    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project131
    Project downloads128
    Media downloads3M681822 (1 download); M681825 (1 download); M681826 (1 download);