Coronavirus: Birdsong seems louder and the ravens are more relaxed
Lockdown enabling people to engage with ‘calm and quiet’ natural world
Hits on the Birdwatch Ireland website are up 350 per cent as a society in shutdown takes more notice of the natural world.
The spike in interest comes at a time when not just birds but plants, marine life, insects and even our skies are all affected by the sudden reduction of human activity prompted by the fight against coronavirus.
“I’ve noticed the ravens are more relaxed,” says Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, which are closed as part of the Government’s containment measures.
“At weekends on a good day, [there] could be up to four or five thousand people, and the birds are never, ever, comfortable or settled. But now it’s so quiet, they won’t see a person all day, and it just gives them that added confidence in going about their nesting.”
There is a lot of research going on, he says, about the effect of traffic noise on birds’ efforts to lure a mate. Birds sing early in the morning to mark their territory and to attract partners, but unfortunately, this usually coincides with both the early morning rush hour and early morning flights.
“Now the noise levels in Dublin have dropped by almost one-third and it has become very calm and quiet.”
The cleaner air we are experiencing will be good for plants, as newly emerging leaves will be subject to far less day-to-day pollution, says Jebb. “The delicate new leaves get a cleaner sweep, and a much better start in life.”
“A lot of people are asking us has the lockdown produced more birds, and the answer is no,” says Niall Hatch of Birdwatch Ireland. “The number of birds is the same as it has always been. It is just people are more aware of them than they have normally been.”
People are spending more time in their own gardens, if they have one, and the unusual quiet in cities means that birdsong is more noticeable. It is also the case that because of the quiet, sound travels more.