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Urban birds alter songs to be heard over traffic noise

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Many urban dwelling birds alter their song’s tune from the low-frequency to a high pitch to be heard far better in big cities’ noise pollution, new study says.

Many species have developed divergent strategies for dealing with the numerous unfavorable environmental conditions in cities such as light and noise pollution, according to the scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and Radolfzell.

They observed that the birds differentiate their song from the low-frequency sound in rural settings to adapt to city life.

The data indicates that the metropolitan bird is far more boisterous than his counterpart with the rural life.

The researchers also unraveled that various birds use different ways to deal with uncontrolled urban conditions.

To attract mating partners and keep their territories safe, urban robins sing in the latter night when the traffic noise is low while many other bird species including blackbirds sing particularly loudly at a higher pitch which is easier to detect.

“By actively selecting high-frequency sounds, the city birds can increase their capacity to sing loudly and in this way counteract the acoustic masking of their song by the ambient noise,” said the leader of the research team Henrik Brumm.


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