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City lights create sexual early birds

Male blackbirds exposed to nocturnal illumination ready to mate sooner in spring

SAN FRANCISCO — City lights can deliver male birds into reproductive readiness weeks ahead of schedule.

Male European blackbirds monitored in a lab under simulated city lighting started secreting increased levels of testosterone and growing their sexual organs up to a month earlier in the spring than birds kept in country-style darkness, Davide Dominoni of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany, reported January 6 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

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