Why birdsong is dying out

The cause would be a reduction in the number of animals and their biodiversity. A study indicates that the soundscape in North America and Europe is dying out.

Birdsong is shrinking and getting quieter. This is according to data collected by a study carried out by several European institutions coordinated by the British University of East Anglia in Norwich and published in the journal Nature Communications. The research shows that the soundscape is getting poorer, especially in North America and Europe, and the causes would be two: the reduction in the number of animals and their biodiversity. The analysis reconstructed the change in spring sounds over the last 25 years in more than 200,000 locations on both sides of the Atlantic. Italy, however, was excluded from the list of observed locations.

The Birdsong Study

The researchers cross-referenced data on bird numbers with recordings of their song over the past two and a half decades. "Natural soundscapes are under increasing pressure from global biodiversity loss, and our results reveal a chronic deterioration in their quality," the scholars wrote. "These changes," they added, "suggest that natural soundscapes, as a whole, have become both more homogeneous and quieter."

The consequences for people's daily lives

The problem would affect not only biodiversity but also humans. More than half of the world's population, the scientists pointed out, lives in large cities, and the urban lifestyle reduces opportunities for direct contact with the natural environment for both adults and children. According to the study team, "this so-called extinction of experience is leading to a growing disconnect between humans and nature, with negative impacts on physical health, cognitive abilities and psychological well-being."

In many places, bird song would have remained the only point of contact between nature and a person's daily life, but even that last element is becoming less and less present. The prediction is that " the gradual decline in bird populations will cause a further reduction in the quality of the soundscape and, as a result, a continued dilution of the experience of contact with nature."

Another study, however, reported that the urban landscape also creates problems for birds because of the transparency of the glass used in homes, which disorients these animals and causes them to crash into windows. To avoid the danger of collisions with buildings, it would be useful to turn off the lights. It has also been discovered that birds have a supersense to find their way back home.

Stefania Bernardini