Noise pollution hampers bird communication
Apioneering study has shown that noise pollution is having a far greater impact on birds than previously thought and could be interfering with their song communication – and consequently their behaviour and breeding.
“Singing is one of the most common ways birds advertise that a territory belongs to them, and birds will perch near the edge of their territory to broadcast their claim to the maximum range,” says Gareth Arnott of Queen’s University Belfast. “A strong, vibrant song will help defend a territory from intruders and attract a mate,” he adds.
Noise pollution was found to diminish the ability of robins to hear each other clearly and distinguish between different aspects of a potential rival’s song.
“We found that bird song structure can communicate aggressive intent, enabling birds to assess their opponent, but human-made noise can disrupt this crucial information passed between them by masking the complexity of their songs used for acquiring resources, such as territory and space for nesting,” he says.
It is thought that this could be a problem for all songbirds, including thrushes, tits and warblers.
Robins are well known for their distinctive song, but are they being drowned out?