Bird song has got LOUDER in the last 30 years to compete with traffic - and the tunes are changing too
- Traffic noise has increased since Seventies
- Birds not only sing louder but change song to 'keep up'
- Songs have become higher-pitched so as not to be 'lost' in traffic noise
- Birds are singing fewer different songs
Amid the hubbub of the city, the sound of a sparrow singing can be a welcome reminder of a more peaceful time.
Except even that isn’t the same any more, scientists say – because the birds have had to change their song so they can be heard above the constant rumble of traffic.
Today’s urban sparrows have a far more high-pitched song than they did 50 years ago, according to American researchers, which helps them stand out from the noise of the city.
They compared archived recordings of sparrow song from the 1960s with tapes made in the same area of San Francisco in 2005. They also looked at data on noise levels in the city and the number of cars crossing the Golden Gate bridge.
Professor David Luther discovered modern sparrows are more shrill than their ancestors, and that the number of songs or ‘dialects’ sung in the area has fallen.
In the 1960s, the white-crowned sparrows studied sung three dialects. Thirty years later that had fallen to two and today only one dominates, known as the San Francisco dialect.
It is the highest-pitched of the three, and the researchers believe it was the easiest one to adapt so it could be heard over background noise.
Source: Daily Mail