Biology Letters

    Ambient noise interferes with the propagation of acoustic signals through the environment from sender to receiver. Over the past few centuries, urbanization and the development of busy transport networks have led to dramatic increases in the levels of ambient noise with which animal acoustic communications must compete. Here we show that urban European robins Erithacus rubecula, highly territorial birds reliant on vocal communication, reduce acoustic interference by singing during the night in areas that are noisy during the day. The effect of ambient light pollution, to which nocturnal singing in urban birds is frequently attributed, is much weaker than that of daytime noise.