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High Volume, Low Fidelity: Birds are less faithful as sounds blare

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12:03pm, August 22, 2007

Female zebra finches, normally devoted to their mates, are more likely to flirt with male strangers when background noise goes up, say researchers.

A test with finches in a lab found that white noise with the loudness of heavy traffic virtually wipes out female loyalty to established mates, says John P. Swaddle of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Yet those same females strongly prefer their mates when tested in a hushed room.

"This is a new way of thinking about the consequences of noise pollution," says Swaddle.

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