Radio 5 Live and TalkSport confuse robins

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Two of the region’s national radio stations could be causing problems for migratory birds, according to new scientific research.

It’s not that robins are particularly sensitive to football phone-ins and debate, instead it’s the AM frequency which sends them off course.

A team from the University of Oldenburg in Germany have been studying electromagnetic noise and its impact on birds for the last 7 years.

Henrik Mouritsen Henrik Mouritsen

While there have been numerous studies looking at whether electronic devices can affect human health, this is believed to be the first study into how it impacts upon the magnetic compass of birds.

At their laboratories, they discovered that changing radio frequency ranges could cause robins to lose their magnetic orientation capabilities and fly in completely the wrong direction.

"Our measurements of the interferences indicated that we had accidentally discovered a biological system that is sensitive to anthropogenic electromagnetic noise generated by humans in the frequency range up to five megahertz", explained Prof. Dr. Henrik Mouritsen, a biologist and Lichtenberg Professor at the University of Oldenburg.

With no confirmed date yet for the DAB digital switch, maybe now it’s time to think of the robins?

You can read the study in more depth on the University website or a letter published in the latest edition of Nature.



Enjoyed this? Get our latest updates in your inbox every day

Subscribe to Prolific North’s morning newsletter to keep up with all the most important things going on in your sector.