[NetBehaviour] Why birds sing up when they move to the city.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Jan 5 12:18:04 CET 2007
Why birds sing up when they move to the city.
Alok Jha, science correspondent
Tuesday December 5, 2006
Songbirds change their tune when they move to cities, according to new
research. Scientists found that great tits adapted to urban living by
singing faster, shorter songs that were at a higher frequency than their
Rapid urbanisation around the world and the subsequent increase in
ambient noise has proven problematic for animals which use sound to
communicate. For birds in particular, city noises can mask the exchange
of vital information and prevent males from attracting mates.
To see how birds reacted to increased noise, Hans Slabbekoorn of Leiden
University recorded the songs of great tits in 10 European cities
including London, Prague, Paris and Amsterdam. He then compared the
songs with birds of the same species in nearby forests. The results,
published today in the journal Current Biology, showed that songs
important in attracting mates and defending territory were markedly
different in the urban setting.
"The songs diverged in several parameters," said Dr Slabbekoorn. "In 10
out of 10 comparisons we found that birds in cities use a higher minimum
frequency. The songs in cities are faster, especially the duration of
the first element of each of those repetitive song phrases."
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