Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Nocturnal Robins

When scientists first noticed that robins in some urban areas were singing at night rather than singing during the day, they concluded that pollution and bright city lights were to blame. “It was thought that street lights tricked the birds into thinking it was still daytime,” says BBC News Science and Nature reporter, Mark Kinver. One thing is certainly for sure. Something is occurring in our cities that are making these birds sing at night. Richard Fuller, a co-author of the published findings that inspired Kinver’s article states, “You generally only seem to hear nocturnal singing in cities.”

Eventually further research revealed that perhaps a high level of noise was to blame for the late night singing. Scientists discovered that “Noise levels were 10 times higher in places where birds were singing at night” (Fuller). But, why? According to Fuller and his fellow researchers, the birds now sing at night because the day time city noise is just too much competition for the small robins.

It seems unclear if this switch to nocturnal singing has or will have any effect on the overall fitness and well being of these urban robins. Time will tell! To read the entire article from BBC News, click here.

For those of you who are interested in finding out more about this phenomenon and the possible effects on these birds, here are a few more sites to check out!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/wildlife.animalbehaviour
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/science/08observ.html

Posted by: Ericka Adey (1)


16 Comments:

At 3:00 PM, Blogger bspozio said...

Any idea to whether all this nocturnal behavior has resulted in the robins altering other aspects of their daytime activities. If they spend more time up at night would it in turn become harder to find food?

-Posted by: Benjamin Spozio

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Ericka Adey said...

I really have no idea about what the effects of this swap have been. I will try to find out more information for when I revise and update the blog.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I Spent my summer in New York city and noticed that there were a lot of birds singing at night. I really thought it was because of the bright lights making it seem like daytime, as described in your blog. It is interesting to know that it is actually because it is to noisy in the daytime. I would have never thought about that. I am not sure that it was robins that I was hearing in New York. Do you know if this occurs in other types of birds?

Chantal Gomes

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I wonder what other benefits they might have from singing at night and whether its just these robins that change their behavior or other birds change their behavior because of the amount of noise.

Chuck Scondras

 
At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting article. In terms of finding food when they at night rather than during the day, maybe they eat small rodents that are scurrying around at all times of day and night. Or it is also possible that they feed off of berries found on random trees in the city? It is a stretch but I am just brainstorming possible food options that would allow these birds to be nocturnal.

Post by Sarah Moltzen

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An experiment they could do to see if there are any effects on a robin living in the city would be to take a few robins and place them in a controlled environment and put a few robins from places outside the city in a copy of that controlled environment and then see how the different groups of robins react. However,it may be difficult catching the robins.

-Sasha Rogers

 
At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had thought robins begin singing with a certain amount of light, I even had a professor explain that birds with larger eyes began singing earlier. It will be interest to see what happens when other experiments are done to replicate this finding.

Allan Eldridge

 
At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what other aspects of the city robins' behavior have been affected when living in the city compared to those who live in areas with less activity. When I think about it whenever I spend time in Boston birds are heard all through the night but when I go back to my hometown, which is a suburb of Boston, you hardly hear a peep from anything.

Posted by: Debbie Theodat

9.21.2008

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger PWH said...

You certainly have a very interesting share here. I live in the suburbs but I have actually heard birds chirping at night also. Any idea as to whether there are any birds that chirp at night?

Helen Thi

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger PWH said...

How would it be beneficial for the robins singing at night? What would their singing normally be used for, or what is their normal time for singing? Living in NYC, I don't observe this phenomenon. This is perhaps because there are no robins around. Although I would think if the robins were reacting to the noise, wouldn't other birds react in a similar fashion? Not sure, just brain storming. Thank you for your article.

Amanda Sceusa

 
At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is very interesting. i wonder how hard it would be to test it in the lab. if we could somehow only replicate the noise using speakers that might work.


Matthew sousa

 
At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand that in the beginning they thought it was the city lights confusing the birds into thinking that it was day time, but wouldn't they think it was daytime in the real daylight? I could see testing that in a lab where it was dark and then put in "city lights." I do wonder how they get the food and if they sleep during the day? Just curious...

-Alyson Paige

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I found this topic intriguing. It is curiosu to me that they can just take a habit as important to them as chirping and suddenly switch when they do it. It seems as if it would be more about them simply chriping than having something to communicate. With time will more and more robins learn that it is indeed nighttime when they must communicate to be heard. Could they become more active at night as a result?

Ahmed Sandakli

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger PWH said...

It is interesting how the light and noise levels of city possibly contribute to the singing of birds. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but if it is, then that is pretty awesome! Good job on the blog.

-Posted by: Heather Scott

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger PWH said...

The picture of Robins looks so quite, and the factor some urban robins do not like to deal with noise that makes robins looks quieter. I feel bad for them. This is obviously showed that animal behavior is affected by their environmental satiation: especially human. In a way, robins are smart because they do not have to waste their energy for competition with the outside of noise. They need to save their energy because they are so small and they need to do some other thing.

So Jin Lee

 

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