Orchestra of bird song growing fainter because of climate change
- Credit: Edmund Fellowes/BTO
Fewer cuckoos call in spring, while the turtle dove's purr and the nightingale's virtuoso trill are becoming less familiar to our ears.
Bird song is growing fainter as species decline because of climate change, scientists say.
Experts led by a team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich have combined bird counts from thousands of sites around the globe with recordings of birds' songs, to reconstruct how so-called natural soundscapes have changed over the last 25 years.
Their research has underlined a “widespread decline in the acoustic diversity and intensity of natural soundscapes”, heralding the swan song of once-common species.
Lead author Dr Simon Butler, associate professor from the UEA’s school of biological sciences, specialises in acoustic ecology, using sound as a yardstick to measure biodiversity.
"You get overwhelmed with numbers quite often in biodiversity," he said. "What that means for day-to-day life is quite difficult to to get across tangibly."
Dr Butler said researchers had layered sound clips of birds into five minute files to show how soundscapes have changed.
- 1 'It is really sad': End of an era as popular pub landlords call time
- 2 Family's heartache as dog dies after being hit by Amazon van
- 3 Meet the three Norfolk businesses featured in Antiques Road Trip
- 4 Family pub and restaurant opens outdoor pool to cold water swimmers
- 5 A146 closed after three vehicles and motorcycle involved in crash
- 6 Warning after dogs left 'limp or lifeless' by mystery illness
- 7 'Torrid time' as insurance giant Marsh quits city centre
- 8 People come 'from all over the country' to try this Norfolk seafood platter
- 9 Man set to stand trial accused of teen daughter's murder
- 10 Former Norwich restaurant to be transformed into £1.5m food hall
Where five skylarks were seen at a location, the calls of five birds would be added.
A brief extract from the Suffolk countryside shows the loss of the curlew's distinctive bubbling call.
We experience birds far more frequently by hearing their song than seeing them. Nature has been a lifeline for many through lockdown.
Dr Butler fears as soundscapes grow less diverse, the loss could have a far-reaching impact on our relationship with birds and our feelings towards them.
"This approach is thinking about them as an orchestra and modelling the quality of that orchestra as a whole, not individual players," he said.
"It's about measuring the sound of the environment s a means of measuring biodiversity health.
"You get this vicious circle, how the quality of our relationship with nature declines.
"As that shift occurs, there's a risk we care less and less about our environment because we've got less to lose."