City noises and their effects on songbirds

Robins in Sheffield sing at night because it's too noisy in the daytime. That reminds me that when I was in Antigua, Guatemala, I was told that the songbirds in the city have started mimicking car alarms. Apparently this is also happening in Oregon with birds mimicking car alarms and cell phone ring tones.

Comments (7)
  1. Hedgeek says:

    I’m not sure if this counts, but there is a woodpecker that frequently pecks a telephone pole in my backyard and I would swear that he is pounding out a bossa nova.

  2. Stubie says:

    The Australian Lyrebird, known for faithfully mimicking other birds, is pretty amazing at mimicking non-bird sounds, including car alarms (from the official BBC youtube channel):

  3. Erzengel says:

    That bird can mimick camera shutters, camera shutter + motor film advance, and chainsaws. That is one amazing bird. I wonder how much research is being done into HOW a bird can make such unnatural sounds…

  4. Fredrik says:

    There was a blackbird (the old-world kind, Turdus merula) that was hanging around my mothers house a couple of years ago that would frequently use telephone signals as the ending sequence of its song. I got just as startled each time I heard it.

  5. Techno Bird Chorus says:

    I believe there’s a specific finch that’s adept at learning songs from their environment.  As a result I’ve wanted to collect a few, segregate them so each one hears a different techno beat then after they’re all adept at repeating their part put them back together to make a techno bird chorus.

  6. mbghtri says:

    High pitched voice from above: "Can you hear me now?"

  7. Lisa says:

    I used to have a parakeet who’s perch sat only a few feet away from a MicroVAX server. The VAX had a scheduled mail process on it that ran regularly every hour or so, and produced a very consistent drive chatter as it processed the logs.

    The parakeet quickly learned to mimic the drive chatter of the VAX running the mail. It would often chatter along with the server. Even years later when the server was long gone, the bird continued to "sing" like an old hard drive.

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