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Blackbirds born in urban environments have developed ways to
keep their stress levels down compared to their forest-dwelling
counterparts, a new study suggests.
The research shows for the first time that city life impacts how
wild animals respond to stressors. For instance, whereas creating
a nest on the side of an apartment building may not rouse a
second-generation city blackbird, the same scenario could skyrocket
anxiety chemicals in rural birds.
The study, performed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for
Ornithology in Germany, is detailed in the August issue of the journal
The researchers measured levels of glucocorticoids, stress hormones
that help the birds survive under difficult environmental conditions.
Compared with the forest-born nestlings, the urban birds showed reduced
levels of stress hormones after the researchers had stressed the birds by capturing them in cotton bags and handling them.