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Sparrows Actually Change Their Tune To Sing Over the Noise Of the City

A study in San Francisco's Presidio District suggests birds are adapting to the increasingly noisy city.
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Well it turns out city-dwellers aren’t the only ones miffed by urban noise pollution. Research has long suggested that wildlife – and birds in particular – may be impacted by the man-made sounds of the city, from car horns to traffic congestion. A new study confirms that sparrows in the Presidio District of San Francisco appear to have changed their tune and raised their voices to be heard over the increasingly noisy racket of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The researchers, George Mason’s David Luther and Louisiana State’s Elizabeth Derryberry, compared modern birdsong in the city to recordings of sparrows in the area taken in 1969. They also looked at historic noise-level data from the Environmental Protection Agency and San Francisco Department of Health, as well as traffic volumes over the Golden Gate Bridge across this time period.