I am bison, hear me Roar!!!

A male bison can weigh in excess of 2,000 lbs but these bulls, members of the Texas State Bison Herd, are probably in the 1,800-1,900 lb range (a car weighs 4,000 lbs.).  In our herd, males start to compete for access to cows in June and challenges continue through August.  I have certainly witnessed aggressive encounters at other times of year and younger males can be seen engaged in “practice” battles year-round.  These two bulls battled for over 5 minutes before the fight culminated in what appeared the be a draw.  Early on they pushed each other through mesquite and all we could see were the tops of mesquite trees being pulled down in the path of these massive animals.  One thing to watch is how the two battling bulls are being followed by yearlings, females and other males.  I assume other mature bulls follow to assess competition or to be in the right place if a there is a change in the pecking order.  Anyone care to speculate why a yearling or female might want follow so close; there is risk of being plowed under by close to 4,000 of bull, what is the benefit?

The ROARS you hear on the video are recordings of bison bulls from the Texas Herd.  I’ve heard this many times before and continue to be amazed by their low-frequency calls.  Low frequency calls, partially below the range of human hearing, are used by elephants to communicate long distances in open country.  I can best describe the roar of a bison as intermediate to the roar of an African lion and an African elephant.  Turn up the volume for this one!  Hope you enjoy this short clip.

7 thoughts on “I am bison, hear me Roar!!!

    • John….thanks for following our blog and for taking the time to comment. Your comments get our attention so I decided to check the literature because, to be honest, I didn’t look up the correct term but was just describing the sound in lay terms (my students would get me for this too). Thanks to your comment I found the following…According to McHugh (1953) “the distinctive roar or bellow of rutting bulls may carry nearly 5 km”. Looks like both terms are used in the scientific literature and I got lucky. Bellow seems to me to be a sound a hurt or dying animal would make while roar seems to better describe their aggressive nature and intent during rut. Thanks again for your input! We love comments and take them seriously. Ray and Jessie.

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