NY TImes: Near Noisy Oil Fields, Lovesick Birds Change Their Tunes
If a sparrow sings his heart out on an oil field, but his would-be sweetheart can’t hear him above the oil pumps, what’s a bird to do?
In Alberta, Canada, researchers analyzed hundreds of hours of Savannah sparrow love songs and discovered something extraordinary: To be heard above the din, the birds are changing their tune in complex ways that scientists are only starting to understand.
“They’re tailoring their songs depending on which part of their message is the most affected,” said Miyako Warrington, a University of Manitoba biologist who led a recent study on how sparrows cope with noise from the oil and gas infrastructure that dots Canada’s landscape. “This seems to show a complex level of adaptation. It’s not just everybody talking louder.”