Birds Sing Louder, Lower to Be Heard Over Human Noise
The din of modern life has gotten so loud that male bluebirds have learned to “shout” louder when the human-generated noise becomes too blaring.
Researcher Caitlin Kight of the U.K.’s University of Exeter and colleagues made the discovery after recording songs produced by 32 male bluebirds.
Writing in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology, Kight says they found the male bluebirds were able to make real-time adjustments to be heard over noise by producing songs that are both louder and lower-pitched.
The finding suggests the birds are able to perceive the louder background noise and alter their songs accordingly to be heard by potential mates or rivals.
Co-author John Swaddle, from the college of William and Mary, cautions against interpreting the findings as proof that noise pollution has no adverse impacts on wildlife.
“Unfortunately, the world is getting so noisy that even the most flexible of species will eventually reach a threshold beyond which they will have difficulty communicating, which will impact their ability to breed successfully,” said Swaddle.