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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Experts make a noise about birds
It is claimed starlings are able to imitate car alarms
Bird experts in Cornwall say they have made a breakthrough by finding that birds can change their song according to their environment.

Before the research, scientists from the University of Exeter in Cornwall thought that bird calls were inherited.

But they now believe they have the ability to adapt and learn new ones.

Previous research has revealed that species' breeding habits could be at risk due to courtship songs being distorted by excess traffic noise.

We did have one starling up the road which was quite good at doing phones
Willy Wagstaff

A naturalist and tour guide in the Isles of Scilly says the differences between the birdsong on Scilly and the mainland are very obvious.

Willy Wagstaff said: "Using Scilly is a good example. We don't have all the car alarms and the rest you have on the mainland.

"Starlings will imitate those, whereas here they're imitating oyster catchers and curlews and the louder noises they hear.

"We did have one starling up the road which was quite good at doing phones, but song thrushes will too and we're lucky to have lots of them here.

"Again on the mainland they will copy each other, however few there are, but here in the islands they're always looking for that edge it seems and they will pick up different noises."

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