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Birds pipe up as cities fall quiet

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 01:53s - Published
Birds pipe up as cities fall quiet

Birds pipe up as cities fall quiet

With three-quarters of Americans living under lockdown, a new sound is starting to replace the noise of traffic and urban tumult, one that has ornithologists eagerly listening: birdsong.

Yahaira Jaquez reports.

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In cities across the U.S., sidewalks are empty and the noise of traffic has been replaced by silence.

But as cities turn quiet, a new sound is emerging: birdsong.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF THE CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY, JOHN WEAVER FITZPATRICK, SAYING: "Oh no, we've never seen anything like this and so indeed, we're learning about the very questions you're asking, namely how much does the human behavior actually change bird behavior?" John Weaver Fitzpatrick is director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

He says there are a number of studies, both in the U.S. and in Europe, that show that birds respond to human noise by reducing their own songs.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF THE CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY, JOHN WEAVER FITZPATRICK, SAYING: "So it's a safe bet that in the much-reduced noise, noise sphere that they're experiencing right now, they're probably out there filling it up a little bit more than they would have otherwise." Even though the hustle and bustle of normal life will eventually return, Fitzpatrick told Reuters that - for now - the stay-at-home restrictions could have a positive impact on birds.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF THE CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY, JOHN WEAVER FITZPATRICK, SAYING: "Depending on how long we're staying in our remote work situations and social distancing and reducing our numbers out there, we may very well see a few more birds breeding in the urban and suburban settings around our communities than we otherwise would have just because we're not disturbing them so much." That's a bright spot for our feathered friends, which are disappearing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and Canada.

According to a study published last year in the journal Science, birds have seen a nearly 30% population drop since 1970.




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