Different kind of tweet: Study says oilpatch causes sparrows to sing a new song

A study by a University of Manitoba researcher suggests noisy oilpatch equipment causes songbirds to change their tune.

Savannah sparrows change their song in response to pumpjacks, compressor stations, study says

A savannah sparrow sits on a post with Calgary in the background. (Eduardo Matoud)

A study by a University of Manitoba researcher suggests noisy oilpatch equipment causes songbirds to change their tune.

The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications, looks at the effects of pumpjacks and compressor stations on the songs of savannah sparrows near Brooks in southern Alberta.

The study found birds had changed their songs in response to different kinds and volumes of noise coming from machines.

Lead author Miya Warrington says birds use different parts of their songs to convey different messages.

Those messages range from territorial warnings to advertising for mates.

It's not clear what impact the forced changes are having on the ability of the sparrows to convey those important messages, she said.

Her findings are consistent with other studies on the impact of artificial noise on birds, she said.