As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Artificial light speeds sexual maturity in blackbirds

A study has found that urban nocturnal light makes European blackbirds develop reproductive systems a month before their woodland counterparts.

Birds exposed to higher light levels developed functional testes on average 26 days earlier than control birds.
Photo: Christian Ziegler

Further results suggested that urbanisation may alter the physiological traits of songbirds.
Scientists say the findings highlight the consequences of artificial lighting on the ecology of urban animals.

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Davide Dominoni, from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany and part of the research team told BBC Nature: "We knew that birds in urban areas sing earlier in the morning and breed earlier in season than conspecifics living in rural habitats."

"There was evidence that urban blackbirds showed not only advanced egg-laying date, but the whole reproductive physiology was turned on approximately three weeks before than in rural birds."

The scientists, from the Max Planck Institute and Konstanz University in Germany, measured the nocturnal light levels that eight "free-roaming" European blackbirds (Turdus merula) were exposed to in the field using miniature light loggers.

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