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Together they excavate a nest cavity, usually in a dead or dying tree. Both have brood patches areas on their undersides that lack feathers and are well supplied with blood vessels, allowing efficient transfer of body heat to eggs , and both incubate the eggs during the day the male has night duty. The parents take turns brooding the nestlings and providing them with food.

And finally, once fledging take place, both parents provide and help their young find food for several months. Photo: male Pileated Woodpecker in nest cavity; female Pileated Woodpecker on nesting tree. Naturally Curious is supported by donations. After arriving back in Vermont in May, Baltimore Orioles mate, build their nest female only near the tip of an outer branch of an isolated tree discouraging predation , lay eggs and incubate them for about two weeks before they hatch.

After spending the next two weeks in the nest, most nestlings are ready to fledge. It is at this point that you can actually see the nestlings as they cling to the outside of their pendulous nest, or perch on its rim as they noisily await the arrival of a parent with an insect morsel. Upon fledging, they can fly, but not very far. The parents will continue to keep an eye on them and feed them during these vulnerable first two weeks out of the nest until they can fend for themselves.

Many thanks to Nina and Jerry Hickson for photo opportunity. Photo: Male topmost bird , female and nestling Baltimore Oriole. The Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera , one of our largest native trees, is a member of the magnolia family. There may not be a more appropriately-named tree in all the land, for the likeness of its orange and yellow goblet-like flowers and the shape of its leaves to that of tulips is undeniable.

Tulip Trees flower for only two to six weeks. Pollination must occur when the flowers are young, and they are often receptive only for 12 to 24 hours. The flowers produce large quantities of nectar for pollinating insects such as flies, beetles, honey bees and bumblebees, but they are not very efficient pollinators and many seeds do not develop.

Those that do form cone-shaped seed heads that may remain on the tree after the leaves have fallen. As with many species of birds, only male Indigo Buntings sing. Their distinctive paired notes are often broadcast from the top of a tree during the breeding season. While some birds hatch knowing the songs they will sing as adults, most songbirds begin learning their songs while still in the nest. The cornetto has a nearly conical bore. So too does the serpent photo at right and the ophicleide. Going back to the earliest lip reed instruments we find approximately conical bores in conch shells and animal horns and the nearly cylindrical or slightly tapered bores in the didjeridu or yidaki.

The didjeridu may seem like the simplest lip reed instruments, but its acoustics and sounds are among the most interesting, because of the relatively strong coupling among the player's vocal tract, lips and the bore. See Didjeridu acoustics for details. The shapes whose acoustical properties are easiest to understand are the simple conical bore rather like the cornetto or the cylinder rather like the didjeridu.

We devote a whole page to the acoustics and harmonics of cylindrical and conical bores, open and closed because the oboe, saxophone and bassoon are closed, approximately conical bores, the clarinet is nearly a closed cylindrical bore and the flute is well approximated as an open cylinder. If you are interested in what finger holes do on the older lip reeds, go to the section on tone holes on saxophones, because a saxophone can be considered approximately as just an ophicleide with a clarinet mouthpiece. In fact, we shall see that several of the resonances often called 'harmonics' by brass players of the modern brass instruments are not very different from those of a cone.

Exceptions are the fundamental or pedal note, and the very highest notes. To understand why, we shall 'build up' a brass instrument, starting with a simple piece of pipe. Resonances and harmonics of pipes with different shapes. We begin with a simple, cylindrical pipe and blow it. In these cases, the lips and the pipe were in a sense cooperating to form the vibration that gives rise to the sound.

The lips may have their own natural vibrating frequency, which the player can control with lip tension. The pipe has also its own natural frequencies, which are due to standing waves. There is a whole page devoted to pipes and harmonics , and another on standing waves. We briefly review the results here.

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At the far end, the pipe is open to the air, so the pressure there must be close to atmospheric at all times: in other words, the varying part of the pressure what we call the acoustic pressure is near zero. We call this a node in acoustic pressure. At the other end, the pipe is sealed from the atmosphere by the player's lips, and the pressure can vary maximally as the lips open and close: indeed, it is the large variation of pressure in the mouthpiece that usually forces the lips to vibrate at a resonance of the bore.

So at this end we have a pressure antinode. These frequencies are in the ratio etc. They constitute the odd members of the harmonic series, and they are what we heard in the sound file above. The even harmonics dashed in the figure don't fit the conditions in a closed, cylindrical pipe because they have a node at the mouthpiece. More detail in Open vs closed pipes. Before we go further, we should note that the resonances of a simple pipe are only exactly harmonic if the pipe is very thin.

As the pipe diameter increases, the higher resonances are successively flatter. This is quite noticeable in a cylindrical didjeridu. The effects of the bell. Now there are at least two problems with a cylindrical pipe like this: first, the notes are too far apart to be musically useful. Second, it's not loud enough and what's a brass instrument for, eh? Adding a flare and a bell reduces both of these problems.

The flared section of the bore in many instruments are almost conical. First let's look at what this does to the spacing of the frequencies. In the page about pipes and harmonics , we saw that closed conical pipes have resonances whose frequencies are both higher and more closely spaced than those of a closed cylindrical pipe. So one can think of introducing a conical or flared section of the pipe as raising the frequencies of the standing waves, and raising the frequencies of the low pitched resonances most of all.

The bell also contributes to this effect: in the rapidly flaring bell, the long waves with the low pitches are least able to follow the curve of the bell and so are effectively reflected earlier than are the shorter waves. This is because their wavelengths are very much longer than the radius of curvature of the bell. One might say therefore that the long waves 'see' an effectively shorter pipe.

The short waves, on the other hand, are better able to travel into the rapidly widening bell. The further they go into the bell, the easier it is for them to escape into the outside air. So the higher frequency waves are more efficiently radiated as sound outside the instrument. This is a characteristic of the sound of brass instruments: the bell radiates several of the higher harmonics well.

This also makes brass instruments loud, because these strongly radiated high frequencies begin to fall into the range where our ears are most sensitive. To hear the effect of the flare and bell, listen to the sound files below. Notice how the bell raises the pitches of the first three resonances, and also brings them closer together.

We'll discuss that in detail below. Notice too that the bell begins to add the 'brassy' sound. A cylindrical pipe, cm long. No mouthpiece. A cm pipe, including flare and bell. This improved radiation at higher frequencies continues so that, if the waves are short enough—if their wavelength is comparable with the curvature of the bell—then the waves are almost completely radiated at the bell. So the highest frequencies radiate very well. At first this sounds like a good thing. The disadvantage, as we shall see shortly, is that high transmission means low reflection.

And low reflection means weak standing waves, weak resonances and rather flexible notes. One final point about bells: they make the high frequency radiation from brass instruments rather directional. Unlike most instruments, a brass instrument is substantially louder if it is pointing at you. Just ask the bassoonists or violists in an orchestra, who usually sit in front of them! Finally, let's add a mouthpiece. Now we can play the normal harmonic series see standing waves to revise about harmonics , including the notes used for bugle calls.

We'll see why in the next section. A mouthpiece, a cylindrical pipe, a flare and bell. When placed against the player's lips, the enclosed volume is sealed at one end by the lips, and has the constricted part of the pipe at the other end.


You might imagine it as a tiny bottle, with your lips at the base of the bottle, and the constriction representing the neck of the bottle. Now, just as the bottle has a resonance that you can excite by blowing over the top, the mouthpiece has a resonance that you can excite by slapping the wide end against the palm of your hand. When shopping for mouthpieces, brass players sometimes do this to compare what they call the 'pop tone'. It is much easier to hear the pitch if you compare two: say a trumpet and a trombone mouthpiece.

As you might expect, the larger the volume all else equal , the lower the pitch of the pop tone. This is an example of a Helmholtz resonator , whose frequency depends on the enclosed volume and the geometry of the constriction. The volume of the air in the mouthpiece depends a little on how far your lips protrude into it, and that varies among people. If your lips protrude further in, then it's tempting to suggest that you should try a larger volume mouthpiece, and vice versa.

However, I know of no formal study of this. The mouthpiece does a few things. First, it allows you to connect the pipe to a comfortably large section of lips. Then there are the acoustic effects of the enclosed volume and constriction. One effect is to lower the frequency of the very highest resonances roughly speaking: those above the pop tone.

So in this regard it opposes the effect of the flare and bell, which tend to raise all the resonances. Another is that to strengthen some of the resonances. We'll return to this when we discuss the spectrum of brass instruments. But first, let's look at the combined effect of the mouthpiece, pipe, flare and bell. Resonances and pedal notes. In this diagram we show at left the resonances of a simple cylindrical pipe, like a very narrow didjeridu. It is cm long, and its lowest note is C2. As a closed, cylindrical pipe, its resonances are the odd harmonics of its fundamental frequency F careful: here F is a symbol for frequency, not the note above E.

We now add a mouthpiece at one end, and at the other we replace a long section of cylindrical pipe with a flare and a bell, to obtain a bore much like that of a C trumpet. The resonances all rise in frequency and pitch flare and bell effect , although the upper resonances rise proportionately less mouthpiece effect. The shape of the trumpet is so designed so that the second and all higher resonances have risen so that they have frequencies in the ratios etc. In other words, the resonances are a complete harmonic series, except for the fundamental. The lowest resonance of the trumpet is not a member of this series.

Further, it is weak and rather difficult to play. Instead, however, good players can play the pedal note , whose fundamental frequency does not correspond to a resonance of the instrument! Further, the spectrum of a pedal note has hardly any power at the fundamental frequency. We show this quantitatively below in Frequency response and acoustic impedance.

What happens here is that the higher resonances 2f, 3f, 4f etc combine to help the lips establish a nonlinear vibration at the frequency of the missing fundamental f. Technically, this is the process that physicists and engineers call mode locking, and is an effect characteristic of nonlinear oscillators. In the pedal note vibration, there are lots of vibration components whose difference is f: any two adjacent resonances have that difference. For instance, with no valves depressed on a trumpet, you can play the lowest note: written C4, with a wavelength of the order of twice the length of the instrument.

You may also be able to play the pedal note at written C3 but remember that there is no resonance at this frequency. Harmonics of the natural trumpet and horn. Depending on the shape of the bell, the resonances of a brass instrument can go up to rather high frequencies. Provided the instrument is well designed, their playing frequencies will be close to those of a complete harmonic series provided we accept the pedal note with its nonexistent fundamental. Let's write the first twelve notes in the series for a C trumpet.

This series will be familiar to almost any player in a brass band, where the music is transposed so that it reads as though you were playing a C trumpet, in the treble clef, whether you are playing Eb cornet or BBb tuba. The resonances of a C trumpet, starting from the second. By the way, you can also play this harmonic series on a string , because strings also have the complete harmonic series. In the sound file above, there are several things to notice, which we'll look at in turn: The pitch difference between harmonics becomes smaller as we go up.

Some harmonics are 'out of tune', meaning that they don't lie close to notes on the familiar, equal-tempered scale. Note the symbol for half sharp: the seventh and eleventh harmonics lie roughly midway between adjacent notes on the piano. The highest resonances are weak and easy to bend. Intervals in the natural harmonic series. The decreasing sizes of the musical intervals arise because our sense of pitch depends geometrically or logarithmically on the frequency.

Doubling the frequency is what we call an octave. Starting at the eighth harmonic, it is possible to play scales using the high harmonics, without the use of valves or slides, but subject however to considerable adjustment of the intonation. The natural trumpet and natural horn do just this. The natural or baroque trumpet came in a variety of tunings, but was usually rather longer than the modern trumpet. This transposes the harmonic series down, which brings the high harmonics into slightly more playable range. Here is Paul Plunkett, professor of trumpet at the Conservatorium of Winterthur, playing the Prince of Denmark March on a baroque trumpet in D, whose harmonic series we see here, followed by the first two bars of the march.

All done with the lips: there are no valves on a baroque trumpet.

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Intonation in the natural harmonic series. Some of the pairs of harmonics in the series produce natural harmonies technically the Pythagorean consonances.

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The octave 1st to 2nd harmonic is the most obvious example. The interval between the 2nd and 3rd harmonics has the frequency ratio , which is called a perfect fifth: C to G in our example. Continuing up the series we get a perfect fourth: G to C , a just major third: C to E and a just minor third: E to G. Musicians play in scales with a variety of different internal tunings.

Usually, these scales have notes that produce intervals very close to perfect fifths and fourths, and reasonably close to the natural thirds. The equal tempered scale is such a tuning, but the agreement is only approximate. See notes and check it out. Many of the intervals between pairs of the higher harmonics are, shall we say, less usual harmonies.

In our example, the seventh lies about half way between A and A note the half sharp symbol on this and the preceding graphic in the equal tempered scale. Similarly, the eleventh harmonic is approximately a half sharp fourth on the scale. On baroque trumpets and horns, the player adjusts the intonation to bring these 'out of tune' notes into more familiar scales, as Paul Plunkett does in the example above. Another way to deal with this is to get used to it.

Their scales and chords had half-sharpened fourths and sixths. Very strange — at first. However, after they had played for an hour or so, the natural harmonies on these natural horns started to sound pretty natural to me. Or perhaps it as the wine. Anyhow, such music is not common, but still alive. Benjamin Britten, in the opening and closing passages of his 'Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings', asks the player of the modern horn to forego the use of valves and to play using justthe natural harmonics.

Weakness of the high harmonics. We heard in the sound file above that the notes became less clear, less stable in pitch and less brassy as we went into the extreme high range. This is explained by one of the effects of the bell discussed previously: the bell radiates the high frequency short wavelength waves so well that we get rather little reflection.

This successively weakens the resonances as we ascend the altissimo region. Of course no reflection would give no standing wave at all, and that happens when the wavelength becomes comparable with the radius of curvature of the bell. In this dangerously high range, the trumpet acts just like a megaphone for the player's lips. Technically: the bell is a transformer of acoustic impedance. Let's hear that in these sound files. Demonstrating the weakness and disappearance of the high resonances. How the embouchure and bore work together.

We saw above that a modern brass instrument has about a dozen resonances, of which all but the lowest are approximately in the ratios of the simple harmonics, See under natural horn. We'll see more about this below under frequency response. The player's lips also have their own resonant frequency and the player can play a musical note without an instrument, and change that note by changing the lip tension. See under lips.

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However, the resonances of the bore are, for low frequencies at least, narrower in frequency and 'stronger' than those of the lips: this allows the resonances of the bore to 'take control'. To oversimplify somewhat, a lip reed instrument usually plays at a strong bore resonance whose frequency is slightly higher than that of the lips. The 'taking control' is never complete, however: it is always a compromise. So the player can adjust the pitch of a note by changing lip tension, even if the frequency of the resonance of the instrument does not change. Trombonists may play vibrato by moving the slide slightly, but players of other brass instruments do it by 'lipping'.

By Brooke Jarvis. S une Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing. It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. For a moment, Riis was transported to his childhood on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. Back then, summer bike rides meant closing his mouth to cruise through thick clouds of insects, but inevitably he swallowed some anyway.

But all that seemed distant now. But this absence, he now realized with some alarm, seemed to be all around him. Where had all those insects gone? And when? It was, he granted, an odd thing to feel nostalgic about. I met Riis, a lanky high school science and math teacher, on a hot day in June. Made of white mesh, the net ran the length of his car and was held up by a tent pole at the front, tapering to a small, removable bag in back.

Drivers whizzing past twisted their heads to stare. Riis eyed his parking spot nervously as he adjusted the straps of the contraption. Riis had not been able to stop thinking about the missing bugs. The more he learned, the more his nostalgia gave way to worry. Insects are the vital pollinators and recyclers of ecosystems and the base of food webs everywhere.

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Riis was not alone in noticing their decline. In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87 percent over the same period.

Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented. People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night — familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. They called it the windshield phenomenon. But by the time the nets were ready, a paper by an obscure German entomological society had brought the problem of insect decline into sharp focus. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years.

If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82 percent. Riis learned about the study from a group of his students in one of their class projects. They must have made some kind of mistake in their citation, he thought. The study would quickly become, according to the website Altmetric, the sixth-most-discussed scientific paper of Within days of announcing the insect-collection project, the Natural History Museum of Denmark was turning away eager volunteers by the dozens.

How could something as fundamental as the bugs in the sky just disappear? And what would become of the world without them? Anyone who has returned to a childhood haunt to find that everything somehow got smaller knows that humans are not great at remembering the past accurately. This is especially true when it comes to changes to the natural world. It is impossible to maintain a fixed perspective, as Heraclitus observed 2, years ago: It is not the same river, but we are also not the same people.

A study, by Peter H. The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall. By one measure, bugs are the wildlife we know best, the nondomesticated animals whose lives intersect most intimately with our own: spiders in the shower, ants at the picnic, ticks buried in the skin. We sometimes feel that we know them rather too well. Haldane reportedly quipped that God must have an inordinate fondness for them. A bit of healthy soil a foot square and two inches deep might easily be home to unique species of mites, each, presumably, with a subtly different job to do.

And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet — that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science. With so much abundance, it very likely never occurred to most entomologists of the past that their multitudinous subjects might dwindle away. As they poured themselves into studies of the life cycles and taxonomies of the species that fascinated them, few thought to measure or record something as boring as their number. Besides, tracking quantity is slow, tedious and unglamorous work: setting and checking traps, waiting years or decades for your data to be meaningful, grappling with blunt baseline questions instead of more sophisticated ones.

And who would pay for it? When entomologists began noticing and investigating insect declines, they lamented the absence of solid information from the past in which to ground their experiences of the present. He was surprised to find that no such studies existed. If entomologists lacked data, what they did have were some very worrying clues. Along with the impression that they were seeing fewer bugs in their own jars and nets while out doing experiments — a windshield phenomenon specific to the sorts of people who have bug jars and nets — there were documented downward slides of well-studied bugs, including various kinds of bees, moths, butterflies and beetles.

In Britain, as many as 30 to 60 percent of species were found to have diminishing ranges. Larger trends were harder to pin down, though a review in Science tried to quantify these declines by synthesizing the findings of existing studies and found that a majority of monitored species were declining, on average by 45 percent. Entomologists also knew that climate change and the overall degradation of global habitat are bad news for biodiversity in general, and that insects are dealing with the particular challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides, along with the effects of losing meadows, forests and even weedy patches to the relentless expansion of human spaces.

There were studies of other, better-understood species that suggested that the insects associated with them might be declining, too. People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves.

Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades.

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At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving. In Denmark, an ornithologist named Anders Tottrup was the one who came up with the idea of turning cars into insect trackers for the windshield-effect study after he noticed that rollers, little owls, Eurasian hobbies and bee-eaters — all birds that subsist on large insects such as beetles and dragonflies — had abruptly disappeared from the landscape. The signs were certainly alarming, but they were also just signs, not enough to justify grand pronouncements about the health of insects as a whole or about what might be driving a widespread, cross-species decline.

Then came the German study. Scientists are still cautious about what the findings might imply about other regions of the world. The numbers were stark, indicating a vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe, even in protected areas where insects ought to be under less stress. The speed and scale of the drop were shocking even to entomologists who were already anxious about bees or fireflies or the cleanliness of car windshields.