The Washington Post reports scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History found that some birds are so stressed by noise pollution that they exhibit the same physiological symptoms as a human suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Scientists sampled the blood of a bluebird who nested 75 yards from a natural gas compressor. The low whine of the machinery took its toll on the bird, and it became difficult to hear the sounds of approaching predators, or even the usual noises of the surrounding world.
The bird stress hormone levels became skewed, and her health deteriorated. The bluebird couldn’t resettle elsewhere because she had a nest full of hatchings to tend and her chicks suffered too, growing up small, and scantly feathered – if they survived at all.
When the bluebird’s blood was sampled as part of a study of 240 nesting sites surrounding the gas treatment facilities in northern New Mexico, scientists found she showed signs of PTSD.
Study Finds Noise Has Health Impact on Birds
“Noise is causing birds to be in a situation where they’re chronically stressed, and that has huge health consequences for birds and their offspring,” says Rob Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Guralnick and his colleagues say there is a clear connection between noise pollution, abnormal levels of stress hormones and lower survivals rates.
This is the first time that link has been established in a population of wild animals, and it should make us think hard about what noise pollution is doing to the Earth.
Read the full abstract, ‘Chronic anthropogenic noise disrupts glucocorticoid signaling and has multiple effects on fitness in an avian community’ from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here.