Human noise takes its toll on birds

Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post, reports that some birds are so stressed by noise pollution that “it looks like they have PTSD.”  Kaplan writes that scientists researching birds living near noisy natural gas treatment facilities in New Mexico discovered from sampling the birds’ blood that they had “the same physiological symptoms as a human suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.” Said Rob Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History, “[n]oise is causing birds to be in a situation where they’re chronically stressed . . . and that has really huge health consequences for birds and their offspring.”

And humans?  The researchers took their findings to Christopher Lowry, a stress physiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who was not surprised by the results–“it’s what you would expect in a creature exposed to prolonged, persistent strain.”  So does the study’s findings have implications about the effect of noise on human health?  Kaplan writes:

To Lowry, the fact that humans respond to stress in the same manner as animals as distantly related as birds suggests that this response is ancient and deeply ingrained. And it raises questions about how humans handle exposure to unrelenting noise. The mother bluebird that nested near a compressor and was unable to leave when the sound became unbearable may not be so different from a low-income human family forced to rent an apartment near a flight path or loud industrial site.

Ultimately, being under an aural assault is bad for any living thing’s health and well-being.  Says Lowry, “[t]here’s evidence that being able to have a full auditory experience is essential for optimal health in both species.”


Comments (2)

  1. Ben Shrader

    From my years outdoors I know that birds and animals act differently and more complacent when everything is quite. It is also essential to me relaxing and venting stress out there when things are quite. I was once playing and talking to a wild turkey gobbler that would answer ever call I made. A jet plane came over with throttle up fairly low and he gobbled frantically as long as you could hear the plane as if agitated by it. I first discovered some of these tips while preparing a wildlife presentation to a group that had lost their spouse, called “New Beginnings”. To my delight this is recognized by others and published on this site, Thanks.

    1. GMB (Post author)

      Thank you for your comment.


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