7 Jul 2010

Vuvuzelas could disturb sensitive birds

By BirdLife.SA
Birdlife South Africa (BirdLife Partner) are concerned the beautiful but noisy game of football, with its cheering crowds and vuvuzelas, might have an adverse affect on birds in the area. Executive Director Mark Anderson, said the sounds emitted from the World Cup revelry might cause certain species of birds to abandon their nests and leave their eggs vulnerable to predators. "There are many bird species which are quite sensitive to disturbance, especially when breeding, and I am sure that excessive noise (especially over a long duration) would negatively affect them," he said, adding that they may not breed at all. Research conducted by De Wet Swanepoel and James Hall, of the University of Pretoria and the University of Florida, respectively, in a paper published last year, concluded that the volume of the sound produced by a single vuvuzela topped 130 decibels. The sound produced at a rock concert measures 120dB or less, according to the information provided by the website, giving an indication of what level the noise at the stadiums can be expected to reach. Their research was conducted at a premier league match in Pretoria with a sample group of 30 000 spectators, most of whom were blowing vuvuzelas. "Official match stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup hold up to 90 000 spectators, three times more than the stadium used in this study. It is reasonable to suspect that sound intensity will be even higher in the larger official venues," they said. Anderson said in addition to these sensitive species, there were birds that had adjusted well to noise. "Other bird species do not seem too perturbed by disturbance, such as Crowned Lapwings nesting on islands in the middle of major roads, Lesser Kestrels roosting in Australian bluegum trees in large townships and Cape Sparrows nesting in telephone poles next to major roads." Phillip Whittington, of the East London Museum and department of zoology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, also said that the effects of the noise on birds would vary. "During a match at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday last week, for example, I saw a Cape wagtail on the pitch, 30 pied crows over the stadium and a passing peregrine falcon that did not seem to be troubled by the cacophony coming from within," he said, illustrating Anderson's point. The concern for the birds comes in the wake of the campaign for the preservation of the Barn Swallow sanctuary around the King Shaka Airport at La Mercy. Ted Vickers of the Lake Victoria Conservancy, one of the organisations charged with monitoring the barn swallows, "wasn't concerned" by the effect of the noise on the birds in the area around the airport and stadiums. Image Credit: AfricanGoals2010 / Flickr