Pump Up the Volume

What a bird's gotta do to attract a mate these days

| July / August 2005

To overcome increased noise in cities, urban nightingales have to sing louder to find mates. In fact, the birds sing up to 14 decibels louder to rise above traffic noise, according to a recent study by the Free University of Berlin.

This is becoming a problem in Europe, where labor regulations forbid exposing workers to sounds louder than 87 decibels without ear protection. The nightingales have been reported to sing at up to 95 decibels.

The UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds does not think that this is a problem, however. 'Breeding levels for some birds are lower close to roads,' said the society's spokesperson. Therefore it is a good sign that the birds are increasing their volume to attract mates.

Reprinted from 'Environmental News of the Weird' in the radical environmental journal EarthFirst! (Sept./Oct. 2004). Subscriptions: $25/yr. (6 issues) from Box 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702; www.earthfirstjournal.org.