By Dharna Noor
While social distancing measures have pushed many people into sexless, joyless bubbles, San Francisco birds are getting flirtier and more coy. I’m glad someone’s getting some.
Coronavirus precautions and shutdowns have have made cities a lot quieter. In a study published in Science this week, researchers found that, with fewer cars roaring, people chattering, and construction projects whirring, white-crowned sparrows are changing their songs.
Like many birds, white-crowned sparrows use their musical calls to communicate. Males are particularly reliant on their song, which they use to find mates and delineate their territories.
The researchers have been observing the sparrows’ singing in the Bay Area for years. In their previous work, they have shown that increasing urban noise levels—mainly from the low-frequency din of traffic and air conditioners—has caused the birds to start singing louder and shriller songs.
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