Noise Pollution & Birds with PTSD

Impacts of new noise from industrial wind turbines in our environment have created “habitat degradation” and have been an overriding issue in the fight to protect our families and environment. The response to the sound emitted from wind turbines is much more complex than how loud it is. There are reports globally of negative impacts due to exposure to wind turbines causing some families to abandon their homes for respite and relief. The following article highlights the impact of  industrial noise on birds resulting in measurable stress markers. Some birds become so stressed by noise pollution their response is similar to what is found in PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

bluebird 2
A western bluebird searches the ground from a perch. (Dave Keeling/California Polytechnic State University)

 

“The body is just starting to break down,” Lowry said.

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.

The Washington Post|January 9, 2018|By: Sarah Kaplan

Some birds are so stressed by noise pollution it looks like they have PTSD

The bluebird didn’t realize what she was getting herself into when she chose her new home, about 75 yards from a natural gas compressor. It was only as the days and weeks wore on that the low whine of machinery started to take a toll. It was harder to hear the sounds of approaching predators, or even the normal noises of the surrounding world, so she had to maintain constant vigilance. Her stress hormone levels became skewed; her health deteriorated. She couldn’t resettle elsewhere, because she had a nest full of hatchlings to tend. Yet her chicks suffered too, growing up small and scantily feathered — if they survived at all.

Scientists couldn’t ask the bluebird what she was feeling. But when they sampled the bird’s blood, as part of a study of 240 nesting sites surrounding natural gas treatment facilities in northern New Mexico, they found she showed the same physiological symptoms as a human suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Noise 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,” said Rob Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

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