- News Home
10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
- About Us
ScienceShot: Birdsong and the City
6 July 2010 7:01 pm
Faced with traffic noise and other humanmade din, city birds have taken matters into their own hands: they adjust their songs in real time to make themselves heard. Scientists have long known that bird songs vary in different settings and that urban songbirds in particular sing at a higher pitch. But they didn't know whether the variety arose through evolution—higher frequencies carried better over low-frequency urban rumble, allowing higher-singing birds to entice mates and breed high-singing offspring—or if the birds were adapting their songs to the surrounding noise in real time. To find out, researchers exposed 21 house finches to a spectrum of ambient noise recorded on a busy Mexico City street. The finches shifted the minimum frequency of their songs higher as their surroundings grew louder and returned to lower frequencies when the noise subsided. The results, which will be published online tomorrow in Biology Letters, show the birds change their songs as needed to beat the noise.