BIRDS BEFORE AFTER SHUTDOWN IN THE BAY
BIRDS BEFORE/AFTER SHUTDOWN IN THE BAY
This was a silent spring for Bay Area residents, as COVID-19 trapped us indoors to wait, worry and whine.
But outside, our birds re-discovered their most sexy serenades. The stage was all theirs.
A first-ever acoustic comparison of avian songs before and during the springtime shutdown reveals that birds respond quickly when humans hush.
They sang more softly — and these songs were faster, with a wider, lower and more romantic range of pitch, according to the study, published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.
“San Francisco bird singing before shutdown”:
“San Francisco bird singing during shutdown”:
The sound levels of bird songs fell by more than than four decibels during the shutdown; because decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale, songs were about one-third softer. No longer forced to compete with human pandemonium, birds also dropped their pitch by 160 vibrations per second.
“It highlights how much of an effect that humans have on wildlife behavior – and how quickly wildlife can respond when human behavior changes,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Derryberry, an animal communication expert at the University of Tennessee.
“Nature takes over as soon as people get out of the way,” she said.