How Light And Noise Pollution Affects Bird Populations In Idaho

Nov 30, 2020

America’s bird population is in decline. Some studies show that as much as 30% of the population across species has been lost. So, what is to blame for this shocking loss of birds?

New research from universities, including Boise State University, is painting a more complete picture of what is causing the decline. Two of the factors — light pollution and noise pollution — are human-caused.

"[Idaho] definitely ha[s] some of the quietest and darkest places left, but we also have...a lot of land that's exposed to a lot of light and noise. Think about Highway 55 on the way up to McCall, how consistently busy that is with traffic."

Joining Idaho Matters to talk about this research is Jesse Barber, biology professor at Boise State who helped lead this recent study. Barber says that the focus of the research was on nesting, which correlates directly to mating and reproduction among bird species.

Although Idaho is a more wild state than many others in the U.S., birds in the Gem State are not immune to the affects of light and sound pollution.  

Barber says that the research harnessed citizen science from across the country. Mountain chickadees and white-chested nuthatches are two Idaho species affected by light and noise pollution.

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