Bird song behavior along an urban-to-rural gradient

Meeting Abstract

P2.10  Thursday, Jan. 5  Bird song behavior along an urban-to-rural gradient BLACK, C.E.*; GIRAUDEAU, M.; MCGRAW, K.J.; NOLAN, P.M.; The College of Charleston; Arizona State University; Arizona State University; The Citadel

Urban environments pose a variety of challenges to wildlife, containing more stressors than are found in rural areas. One of these challenges is the interference faced by singing birds when confronted with urban noise. Birds may be forced to change the frequency of their song, delay the start of a song, have a song cut short, or stop singing altogether. Each of these effects mimics behaviors shown to be important in the sexual selection of a number of avian species. Our study analyzes characteristics of house finch song recorded at sites along an urban to rural gradient. We recorded 20 songs from each of 10 males at each of 6 field sites in the Phoenix, AZ area, in May 2011. Songs were analyzed to determine frequency range, upper and lower frequencies, song length, and complexity (% of unique notes per song). Our results showed significant differences in song characteristics between the extreme ends of the urban to rural gradient with mixed results in between. In particular, the birds responded differently to continuous noise than they did to periodic noise. We conclude that urban noise does impact the birds’ singing behavior but that the birds have sufficient behavioral flexibility to adapt to this interference.

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