Bird nests don’t protect from noisy neighbours

Published: Comments:
Animals Wildlife or Pets Environment Science & Research University & TAFE


A USC researcher has found that nests offer little respite to birds wanting to escape the damaging effects of traffic and other human-generated noise.

USC Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Dominique Potvin recently shared her findings with bird experts from all over the world at the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver, Canada.

“Global research shows that birds are susceptible to negative impacts of urban noise at all life stages however investigations into whether birds can – and do – change nesting behaviours to cope with urban noise have only just begun,” Dr Potvin said.

“This study is the first to look at whether nests might play a role in protecting birds from the racket outside.”

In a previous study, Dr Potvin found that egg and nestling survival, and growth and development – including brain development – suffered when nests were subjected to traffic and other noise.

“Birds modify certain nesting behaviours based on environmental factors such as predator type and it makes sense that they may also make decisions on nest orientation, materials or structure based on their acoustic environment,” she said.

Expecting to find that urban noise would generally be lower inside nests, Dr Potvin conducted tests on 250 museum nest specimens in a comparative study into how the size, shape and materials affected acoustics.

“Surprisingly we found that most nests were generally ineffective at dampening environmental noise and that shape appeared to make little difference. The exception was mud, which had levels up to six decibels lower than other nest types.”

While the smart move is for birds to build their homes from mud, the study did not suggest that mud nests were an adaptive response by birds to cope with noisy neighbours.

“These nests may give urban birds an advantage, but it appears they are not a prerequisite to living in the city,” Dr Potvin said.

“Of the species that use mud nests such as swallows, martins, magpie-larks, apostlebirds and white-winged choughs, we have both urban adaptors and urban avoiders, suggesting that mud use is not likely specifically linked to noise avoidance.”

The study was published in the recent edition of EMU Austral Ornitholgy, an online journal for ornithological research in the Southern Hemisphere and adjacent tropics.

Dr Potvin hoped the findings would be a starting point for more thorough investigations into the effects of noise on birds and how nesting behaviours could contribute to a species’ resilience against harmful environmental conditions.

Research shows bird nests don’t protect from noisy neighbours (3)

University Of The Sunshine Coast : View Full Profile
90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
07 5430 1234
University Of The Sunshine Coast
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
USC in top table for employer satisfaction 11 January 2019 | The University of Sunshine Coast has placed equal fifth for “overall satisfaction” in a national employer satisfaction survey of 41 universities nationwide.  More information...
Free USC course helps build skills and aspirations 10 January 2019 | A free USC course will offer Sunshine Coast adults the chance to start 2019 by upgrading their academic skills, exploring pathways to higher education and mapping out new career plans. More information...
USC medallist shines light for kids’ future 09 January 2019 | USC graduate Sam Willcocks, aka Samantha Starshine, has a message to share in her first children’s book Annie Ant’s Awareness that she hopes will give children a brighter future and a better world. More information...
Research into how worker morale, engagement and feeling safe are linked 08 January 2019 | A USC Business academic is about to begin research with a local civil engineering firm to investigate links between worker morale, employee engagement and feeling safe at work. More information...
Perfect conditions for bluebottle influx 08 January 2019 | A “perfect storm” of conditions has caused a bumper bluebottle season at Queensland’s swimming beaches, a University of the Sunshine Coast graduate research ecologist says. More information...
Elite USC coach gives powerlift to intern training 17 December 2018 | The lead strength and conditioning coach for Sunshine Coast Lightning has embarked on a project to ensure the nation’s next generation of strength and conditioning coaches have the right training to be at the... More information...
USC has continued to forge ahead in 2018 21 December 2018 | The University of the Sunshine Coast has continued to forge ahead in 2018, celebrating a string of achievements and standing out as one of Australia’s fastest-growing universities. More information...
Free USC course helps build skills and aspirations 20 December 2018 | A free USC course will offer Sunshine Coast adults the chance to start the New Year by upgrading their academic skills, exploring pathways to higher education and mapping out new career plans. More information...
USC student keen to inspire others with Indo-Pacific experience 19 December 2018 | A Business Honours student who recently studied and worked in Indonesia thanks to an Australian Government grants scheme has been appointed USC’s ambassador for the New Colombo Plan. More information...
Swimming guru is UniSport Coach of the Year 12 December 2018 | USC Spartans para swimming head coach Nathan Doyle has tipped his hat to his late mentor Jan Cameron after being named the Unisport Australia Coach of the Year for 2018. More information...

comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service