Earlier this year, the world seemed to stop still after the first pandemic lockdowns. While humans were shut inside their homes, many realized the calmness in the streets, devoid of traffic. Several San Francisco residents even reported that songbirds were singing differently during the pandemic.
Researchers Jennifer Phillips and Elizabeth Derryberry partnered up to analyze the truth of the matter. They wanted to check if the pandemic lockdowns have actually changed the way songbirds sing.
During their research, they compared recordings of San Francisco songbirds singing before and after the pandemic lockdowns. They found that the songbirds were producing much softer sounds after the lockdowns. These sounds, in contrast, also traveled much farther. One reason for this could be diminished noise pollution. The researchers also found that the birds were singing a wider bandwidth and range of notes.
Songbirds In Rural And Urban Spaces
Phillips, a graduate and a postdoctoral researcher from Cal Poly, is also interested in the same questions. Earlier this year, Phillips returned home to San Francisco. Since then, she has been trying to find the differences in the way songbirds sing. Specifically, she focuses on the difference between the vocal range of urban and rural songbirds.
The researchers have also revealed that the Golden Gate Bridge is experiencing unprecedented levels of noise pollution reduction. As per reports, the last time the area was this quiet was back in 1954.
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Usually, the Golden Gate Bridge is filled with large numbers of tourists. The traffic caused by this, in addition to the locals, makes quite a noise.
Phillips reported the recovering conditions of the Golden Gate Bridge after the pandemic lockdowns. She said that the area only sees a few locals out on bike rides or walks. It’s no wonder the songbirds are becoming more visible.
City Dwellers Say Birds Are Singing Louder Since The Pandemic
Phillips further commented on the difference between a rural and an urban songbird. She said that urban songbirds have to compete with thrice the level of noise pollution than rural birds.
She further added that songbirds have now adjusted their vocal range to meet the new “normal”. Since they don’t have to compete with city-noise, they sing softer but it covers a greater distance. This explains why city dwellers think that songbirds are singing louder since the pandemic. Another reason for this is that the forced lockdowns have finally allowed many to observe their surroundings.
Prof. Derryberry also said that songbirds can rapidly adapt to changing conditions. This indicates resilience in this bird species who have survived noise pollution for decades now.
The study was published in the Science journal.
IMAGE FEATURED: Pavel Cheiko