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Road Birds

February 13, 2017

Playing birdsongs near roads can entice birds to repopulate abandoned habitat.


Chestnut-sided Warbler. Matt Tillett U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service CC BY-2.0, via flickr

Chestnut-sided warblers increased in density when bird songs were played in habitat near roads. (Matt Tillett/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/CC BY-2.0, via flickr)


Decoy bird songs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Car noise on a road)

Birds often avoid setting up breeding territories near roads, even if not many cars drive on them. So, otherwise suitable habitat can go unused. Now, researchers are trying to entice the birds back, by making it sound like other birds are already there.


DARREN PROPPE (Calvin College):

That’s where song playback came in, or playing back the songs of the same species to try to draw them back into some of these areas.


That’s Calvin College behavioral ecologist Darren Proppe. He and Matthew Schepers report in the journal Behavioral Ecology that songbird density increased in 11 species when songs were played daily during the springtime. If the newly-arrived birds end up producing offspring, song playback could become a valuable tool for boosting bird populations. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.


Story by Susanne Bard