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City Slicker Birds Shun Their Country Cousins 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the red-bird-vs.-blue-bird dept.
According to scientists, city Great Tits prefer other city Great Tits over country Great Tits. (Lets act like adults). The researchers found that the city dwellers responded more strongly to songs of fellow city dwellers and the same held true for the bumpkins. The average minimum pitch of male Great Tit songs in noisy urban areas was higher than in quieter, rural areas just a few miles away. Dr Rupert Marshall, of Aberystwyth University, Wales, and his team recorded bird song in 20 different cities in Britain. He says, "People speak louder and higher in noisy places like pubs and bars but still recognise their friends' voices once they go outside. Great tits seem to learn the high notes from their neighbours but don't respond as strongly to lower rural tones even when it's quiet."

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City Slicker Birds Shun Their Country Cousins

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  • Better Idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:16PM (#28200429) Journal

    According to scientists, city Great Tits prefer other city Great Tits over country Great Tits. (Lets act like adults)

    Yeah, we could do that. Or we could plug what you just said into Google translator and translate it from English to Hindi to Estonian back to English again:

    According to researchers, large cities and large country breast breast-feeding a baby, like other big cities do. As adults (Act I)

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      I prefer the Babelfish English --> Trad. Chinese --> Simp. Chinese --> English version:

      According to the scientist, the urban great tit likes in the national great tit's other urban great tit. (lets likely adult's motion)

      Particularly the parenthetical bit at the end... sounds dirty to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I ran the gamut using Google translator starting from English cycling translations alphabetically from Albanian all the way through to Vietnamese (but skipping Chinese), then finally back to English:

        According to scientists, city Great Tits prefer other city Great Tits over country Great Tits.

        becomes

        Large and powerful countries and cities, as well as research on breast cancer.

        • Re:Better Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:14PM (#28202445) Homepage

          I prefer to round-trip [bbs2.hk] them until they stabilize ;) Greek has fun with capitalization. Japanese goes off on a tangent about milk. Korean has a funny second cycle. The hebrew translation gets really excited.

      • I know you're trying to be funny, but there is actually no point in "translating" from Traditional Chinese to Simplified Chinese in your process; they are not different languages, only different scripts (both usually represent Standard Mandarin or occasionally other varieties). Babelfish will likely just convert the simplified characters that are different from their traditional counterparts back to traditional, so you might as well just pick one. :)

    • by MrKaos (858439)
      Someone was watching Spiks and Speks last night ;-)
    • by Saija (1114681)
      OMG!
      you really did that crazy translation in google!
      how do i know it? hmmm....
    • by selven (1556643)

      http://tashian.com/multibabel/ [tashian.com] is a good site too. It turned this:

      Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.

      Into this:

      Configurations of Humpty Dumpty to the pagination in the wall. Great rectangle of the passages of Humpty Dumpty. This king' whole; Malese and whole S that king' Team of the employees couldn' of S; Period of Humpty of the collection of T in which it is according to place.

    • Dude. I just cut-n-pasted that into txt, just in case. It has some strong potential to become a slash meme, *and* it shows up as a FP. Frankly, I'm amazed. To top it all off, it requires some brain-power to arrive at any number of graphics. Well done!
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:19PM (#28200463)

    Great tits from the city are higher and perkier than tits from the country. The country tits are lower, and the city tits don't give them the time of day.

    It's not really any wonder, though. Everyone prefers perky tits.

  • by delta419 (1227406) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:19PM (#28200471)
    ...no one on here knows anything about Great Tits.
  • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#28200509) Homepage Journal

    They would need to examine the reaction of different populations from the countryside to see if the reaction is simply one of disputes between avian clans. As it stands, their data could mean too many different things. The adage, often repeated here, is that correlation is not causation.

    • by DeadPixels (1391907) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#28200595)
      Well, this study just went tits-up.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:58PM (#28202181) Homepage

      They would need to examine the reaction of different populations from the countryside to see if the reaction is simply one of disputes between avian clans. As it stands, their data could mean too many different things. The adage, often repeated here, is that correlation is not causation.

      As your knowledge of bird behavior stands, yes, it could mean just about anything. When you know nothing else but that correlation exists, then this in fact does not indicate causation. However when someone possess knowledge of other factors that suggest causation, then correlation can in fact support the causation conclusion.

      In this case, a "dispute between avian clans" can easily be ruled out. You see, when a breeding male tit hears the call of another male tit nearby, that male will sing its own song to proclaim its territory, or investigate the source of the call in order to drive the intruder out. If the male country tit recognized the call of the male city tit, but didn't like city tits, then it would have responded more aggressively in trying to drive out the intruder. The lack of a response means that the country tit did not consider the city tit to be a threat, making the most likely explanation that the country tit didn't recognize the city tit's song as being that of a Great Tit at all.

      There is as they say more research to be done. The next step is to see how females from each group respond to the calls of the other group. This is going to be trickier. While a male will react to any male that enters its territory and thus threatens its chances to mate, a female may or may not respond to the call of a male for any number of reasons. However if city tit females routinely reject the calls of country tit males and vice versa, then the question of whether the female recognizes the male call but just doesn't like it vs doesn't see them as the same species becomes largely moot. If the females aren't attracted to the other males, they won't breed, and they will slowly begin to separate as species.

      On the other hand, if females don't appear significantly less attracted to the other males, then well I'm not really sure what would happen since I'm not terribly well versed in Great Tit behavior. It might mean more females breeding with multiple males on the edge of cities since the city/country males wouldn't compete with each other. It might mean that a bird born from mixed parentage would learn both songs, possibly eliminating the difference.

      • by jd (1658)

        The parent post needs to get modded up. It is probably one of the most informative posts I've seen on Slashdot in a long time and is extremely well-written. Worthy of an article in itself.

      • by OS2toMAC (1327679)
        See what happens when someone acts like an adult. We learn stuff. Man, I hate to learn stuff.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          See what happens when someone acts like an adult. We learn stuff. Man, I hate to learn stuff.

          On the plus side I did get to say "tit" like fifty times.

    • I believe further study of Great Tits is necessary. I would gladly volunteer my time and effort to conducting a most thorough survey of Great Tits in many diverse geographical locations, but I seem to be having trouble securing funding.
  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#28200511) Homepage

    They're undergoing divergent evolution. It's not like we haven't seen this before. Pigeons are rock doves that have adapted to urban life instead of their traditional cliff-dwelling habitat.

    • Is it necessarily evolution? Or is it simply training? I bet if I took a bird egg from the country and swapped it with one from the city, that the birds would identify with their adoptive culture.

      (And another thanks to Slashdot for the five minute wait between posts).

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:09PM (#28202371) Homepage

        Is it necessarily evolution? Or is it simply training? I bet if I took a bird egg from the country and swapped it with one from the city, that the birds would identify with their adoptive culture.

        Either way the result will be evolution. Even if the different call is learned behavior (which they theorize is the case), if the females from one group won't respond to the calls of the other (which they haven't tested yet) then they won't interbreed and barring substantial egg-swapping efforts by humans they are effectively different species on their own evolutionary paths.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JordanL (886154)
          This just theoretically reduces the alleles available to given sample... it isn't genetic evolution, which I think is the point being made.

          And it's a fairly valid point. There is a big difference between differentiation and evolution, and the blurred line between them by many "science buffs" is why they're scoffed at by ID proponents.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Chris Burke (6130)

            This just theoretically reduces the alleles available to given sample... it isn't genetic evolution, which I think is the point being made.

            Change in allele distribution is evolution. And once there are two separate breeding populations, any further mutations or allele frequency changes will not be transferred to the other group, and thus clearly it is only a matter of time until they are different enough that anyone can see that genetic evolution has taken place.

            And it's a fairly valid point. There is a bi

    • by tverbeek (457094)
      It may just be a case of the phenomenon observed over and over in humans: that girls tend to fall for guys who remind them of their father, and boys tend to fall for gals who remind them of their mother. It's provincialism.
    • by bigbird (40392)
      Divergent evolution? Nah. The city birds are just going deaf with all the noise.
  • by Afforess (1310263) <afforess@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:28PM (#28200603) Journal
    This is obviously a prime example of an adaptation creating a new and distinct species. In a few years, the city birds will no longer interbreed with their rural counterparts, and the inbreeding will cause them to mutate and adapt differently. In 100 years the two groups will be in two very distinct species, with one having the upper hand in our modern climate. I'm sure this is already beginning to happen to other species, but its just because of birds shorter gestation period and lifespan that it is appearing first. Just wait, in several hundred more years, humanity will have reshaped all of the species on this planet, for good or ill.
  • ...I'm here for the funnies.
  • by hbean (144582) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#28200733)

    Nothing beats waking up in the morning, looking out your window and seeing a pair of great tits.

  • by digitalgiblet (530309) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:37PM (#28200777) Homepage Journal

    98% of slashdot readers applied for the job of "watching Great Tits" without reading the article (this IS slashdot).

    You would think they would be disappointed on their first day of work, but the fact that they were issued binoculars let to great job satisfaction.

  • Boobies and science!! It's simply not possible to get any better than that (Ok, maybe boobies, science and beer...)

  • It's interesting how human urbanization affects the behavior of animals, creating new niches and possibly new sub species as in this case. Once at a large parking lot I saw small birds jumping up and eating the insects that got stuck on the cars registration signs and windshields. Apparently, they had specialized in this, cleaning out new cars that got parked. In the future, we will probably have a set of animals that are completly dependant of the urban environment and human activities.
  • It is "let's" (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by wowbagger (69688)

    Let us try to act as though we understand how to spell, and use the proper contraction form "let's" when we are forming the contraction of "let us", shall we?

    Of course, given the /. propensity for "loose", "your" when the contraction "you're" is intended, and the eternal battle against the mindset of "An apostrophe! Look out, here comes an 's'!", perhaps we should just call Butch in on this one [choppingblock.org].

  • (Lets act like adults).

    No.

  • Oh come on! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hellfire (86129) <deviladvNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:00PM (#28201153) Homepage

    (Lets act like adults)

    Really? You want slashdotters to have a mature, serious discussion with no inuendo about "Great Tits?" You have to be out of your mind!

    Well if you are so offended by our elementary school breast humor, then all I have to say is tough tits!! Get over it!

  • by yerktoader (413167) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:11PM (#28201343) Homepage

    city Great Tits prefer other city Great Tits over country Great Tits. (Lets act like adults).

    Or we could take George Carlin's view on the low brow - if you can't laugh at a fart joke...

  • ...and back, can we dub them "Bouncing" Tits?

  • ...but it reads like fark.com
  • (Lets act like adults)

    Yeah, when the article is about tits telling other tits to GTFO. Not to mention the fact that research did not involve female tits (there are no girls...) thus leaving its most important question unanswered.

  • but I'm far too lazy to read all the comments on THIS kind of story, so I'll say it myself:

    I refer Great Tits in the city instead of the country because I live in the city and thus have easier access to them.

    Example:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/ads/1204098642.html [craigslist.org]

  • A study that proves that ladies prefers the male city great tit.

    Now that's something that will interest the audience here.
  • (you people spend far too much time complicating what should be such a simple comment)

  • I defy these researchers to find country birds with a southern drawl and see if it yields the same result.
  • Its got to be said!
  • I have seen a better Great Tits headline. A while back on the BBC there was this one: "Great tits cope well with warming" [bbc.co.uk]. It was about how this species of bird is doing well with the warming environment.

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