Human activity is affecting how birds sing - research

A bad night's sleep can mean a groggy start to the day and makes communicating clearly pretty difficult.

Now, researchers at the University of Auckland say the same applies to birds and avian insomnia is having an impact on their songs.

Nature's alarm clock bird calls signal the start of a new day.

But researchers at the University of Auckland said human activity is affecting birds' sleep cycles and changing their tune.

"They sleep lighter when they have light or noise pollution so it seems like they're having more naps during the day and singing less because of that," researcher Juliane Mussoi told Newshub.

Mussoi has been studying the songs of Australian Magpies and Common Mynas.

She said a lack of sleep means the birds are struggling to learn and sing their own calls which they use to defend their territory, ward off prey and attract mates.

"If they are not singing well or as often, they might be losing a bit of this communication with other birds or animals as well," Mussoi said

Mussoi said it's noise and light pollution that's causing avian insomnia.

"Birds use light as a very important cue for many of their behaviours and so light pollution confuses that cue," Auckland Council Pest Management adviser Ellery Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said it's also causing confusion for some of our native birds.

"I don't know if you've ever had a tui near your house that starts singing at 4am, it could be light pollution causing it to start its day early."

To play our part in bringing back the chirps, it's worth considering a quieter mode of transport and Fitzpatrick said there is an easy fix for personal light pollution.

"You just need to flick the light switch off."

To help give birds a better night's sleep and in turn, help them sing.