SOURCE: National Observer

DATE: January 24, 2018

SNIP: Some birds have been forced to change their tune as a result of noise pollution from oil and gas drilling, new research from the University of Manitoba has found.

The study, published in this month’s edition of The Condor: Ornithological Applications, suggests that the din of industrial activity drowns out important parts of their songs, which may include such vital details as a bird’s ‘name’ or how fit it is for mating.

Researchers studied the effects of oil and gas infrastructure, including compressor stations, pump jacks, and oil well screw pumps on the melodic musings of Savannah sparrows, and compared them with the tunes produced on quiet control sites. They examined 76 birds over a two-year period in Alberta, and recorded them at the height of the singing season — six weeks between May and June.

Sparrows living in and around the oilpatch had modified their frequencies, syllables and tones near generator-powered screw pump sites — the loudest form of infrastructure examined, said report co-author Nicola Koper, a terrestrial ecologist at the university’s Natural Resources Institute.