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Noise Pollution Queering the Pitch For Birds

Noise pollution caused by humans can wreak incalculable havoc. It can even decrease the strength of songbird species by adversely affecting their reproduction. Males sing at their lowest just before females begin laying eggs, indicating that it is the low frequency songs that really made the difference for the females. But to be hard over the din caused by human beings — vehicle noise, etc – the male birds raise their pitch, of which the female birds are not that enamored.

Singing bird

As female songbirds prefer low-pitched singing, when some of their mates raise their pitch to overcome human-made noises, some other male smart alecs, through their low-pitched singing, attract the females and mate with them.

The naïve, high-pitched, real husbands face the music.

Already, noise pollution from humans is guilty of many things — causing whales to lose their way, killing giant squid, leading baby fish away from good habitat, and generally stressing out animals.

Great Tit

(Pics courtesy: WhatBird & Thorninger)

But while we know noise pollution in the oceans is causing whales to yell their songs, scientists have only just discovered that it is also causing birds to change their tune — and it seems to lead to a problem with fidelity and mate selection.

Several bird species, including the Great Tit, are reported to change the frequency of their song to deal with human-made noise pollution. However, the extent of the negative impacts is unclear.

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