Saturday, March 29, 2008

City Birds and Country Birds

Ornithologists at the Max Planck Society reported that birds born in a city are more resistant (probably even genetically resistant) to acute stress than forest dwelling birds.

In their lab, the scientists raised two groups of blackbird nestlings: one collected from downtown Munich, the other from a forest 25 miles outside the city. After a year of restful existence, the birds were captured in cotton bags and handled. As might have been expected, all of the birds freaked out from this jarring interruption. But as the stressors were reapplied every four months thereafter, the reaction of the urban blackbirds was considerably more relaxed than their country cousins.

So, say the scientists: city life alters a blackbird’s physiological coping mechanisms.

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