Some birds change their tune in response to noise

By Susan Aiello • Published: April 2nd, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

Like bobby-soxers from the forties, female birds go for crooners that can warble a mellow love song. And they prefer the baritones that sing in lower frequencies.

But thanks to noise pollution, avian Bing Crosbys are having a hard time being heard above the din. New research from the Netherlands shows that in response to urban noise, some birds now sing at less appealing, higher frequencies, just so their songs can be heard at all. These birds have been able to alter their song burst in response to noise … but more rigid singers, like doves and cuckoos, may not be able to adapt.

These findings add to the long list of manmade threats to birds, which run the gamut from habitat destruction to hunting, wind turbines and windowpanes. Let’s keep it down so that the birds can hear themselves sing, and we can enjoy their beautiful melodies, too.