Picture yourself in your school cafeteria at lunchtime. It's very loud, and you're trying to talk to your best friend. What do you do to be sure your friend hears you? Naturally, you turn up the volume of your voice. But you probably also raise the pitch of your voice, which means speaking in a higher voice.

Scientists in Mexico wondered if birds could react in the same way to noise. They knew that city birds generally sing in a higher pitch than country birds. But what they didn’t know was whether the birds had evolved to sing that way, or if birds could change their sounds very quickly in response to noise, just as you did in the cafeteria.

Red finch

They tested house finches by playing sounds recorded from a noisy Mexico City street. Can you guess what happened? As the noise grew louder, the birds started to sing in a higher pitch. When the scientists turned down the noisy city sounds, the birds went back to singing in a lower pitch.

Noise shapes the way these birds communicate. How does noise affect you? 

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