A male regent honeyeater typically makes a “warbly noise” similar to that of a small turkey, and claps its beak while it sings, Mr. Crates said. But when young males can’t find mentors to learn from, they try to mimic the songs of other species instead, including one that sounds “metallic” and another that recalls a repetitive whistle.

Mr. Crates said a useful human analogy would be the Indigenous societies in Australia and the United States whose languages have been lost after populations grew too sparse to sustain them.

“It’s nice to be able to speak two languages,” he said, “but if it comes at the expense of speaking your first language and you can’t associate with your friends and family — or anyone you kind of want to maybe date — it comes at a cost.”

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