Most of us would remember a childhood filled with the pleasant chirping of birds early in the morning and at dusk. Those are acoustic memories that I do cherish a lot to the extent of setting the chirping of birds as my alarm.
But rapid urbanization has totally reversed these trends. Citizens in Bangalore are now complaining about the incessant chirping of our feathered friends through the night thereby depriving them of their sleep.
So what is it that causes these birds to cry at night?
The reason is the noise pollution created by human beings during the day. Birds get so distressed with the noises all day that their own calls go unheard amidst the human made sounds. To tackle the problem, the birds have now adapted to speak or communicate at night when the human-made noise levers are much lesser.
Calling At Wrong Hours
“Rising noise levels are forcing birds to sing at higher pitch and at odd hours. It also affects animals’ and birds’ ability to detect prey. Even frogs and butterflies aren’t spared of this menace,” said M B Krishna, a birdwatcher.
Some of the commonly found species affected by noise pollution are
- coppersmith barbet
- ashy prinia
- common iora
- spotted owlet
- barn owl
“Over the past few years, we have noticed a rise in barn owls in the city. They mostly stay atop trees in apartment complexes and screech a lot. People complain about this but there’s nothing we can do,” said Krishna.
The festival season is especially traumatic for all kinds of animals, be it birds or dogs.
“I have noticed rescue calls triple during festival times. Three years ago, a dog’s tail had to be surgically removed because someone tied crackers to it,” said animal rescuer Rakesh Prabal Kumar. Rakesh cannot remember when he last enjoyed Ganesha Chaturthi or Diwali.”
Animals suffer the most during such times. Dogs especially have incredible hearing ability and can detect sounds that are inaudible to humans,” said Rakesh.”Crackers are so stressful for strays that a lot of them move away from their territory. Many land in new areas and get into fights with other dogs adding to the chaos,” said Rakesh.
Animal rescuers report instances of pigeons dashing into walls and falling to their death. The high decibel environment affects many aspects of wildlife such as finding proper habitat, protecting their young ones, locating food and attracting a mate, say rescuers.
Trees Diffuse Sounds
Experts believe, one way to tackle with noise pollution is to plant more trees. Nature has its own means of dealing with its challenges. Trees are a natural means to mitigate noise levels.
Ecologist Harini Nagendra said, “If noise can affect humans so much, it’s bound to affect animals as well. Our studies have shown that trees can reduce noise pollution to a considerable extent. Road-side trees can help cut down noise generated by traffic.”
According to her, branches and leaves scatter the noise in different directions, and prevent it from entering houses, parks, lakes and other habitats.
High decibel sounds are not only bad for human hearing but also all other species living around us. The important lesson to follow for all of us is to reduce the amount of noise we make and plant more and more green covers to diffuse the harmful sounds. Maybe, only then the chirping of birds at dawn and dusk will come back in our lives.
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