Birds are adapting to city life
IF YOU find modern cities a bit stressful, you should spare a thought for our urban wildlife. Attempts to adapt to living in built-up areas are having a dramatic effect on the well-being of birds, foxes… and mosquitoes.
Birds have even developed their own “urban music” – a higher-pitched and faster form of their normal song – a biologist says.
This is because they have to cope with traffic noise, Simon Watt told the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“In general we can say birds in cities have a couple of things in common,” he said.
“They tend to sing at a higher pitch, they tend to use fewer notes and they tend to sing faster. They have their own urban music.
“This happens across all the species, they sing at different times – at night because they’ve got street lights. They are not quite sure when it’s bedtime. It does mean that some of these birds are stressed out.
“This is not evolution, this is acclimatising – these creatures getting used to their new environment and adapting to be heard over the low-pitched rumble of traffic.
“It’s an evolutionary hotspot, perhaps one we’ve neglected.
“It’s one that’s easiest to understand – and we live there too.
“We don’t have to go to Borneo to watch evolution in action,” Watt said.