German blackbirds imitate the sound of electric scooters

In the northern German city of Kiel, blackbirds have been observed imitating the alarm sound of electric scooters. A researcher says that this unusual side-effect of electric micromobility is also likely to spread to other cities as the sound seems to be advantageous for blackbirds finding mates.

Images: Bolt, Daniel Bönnighausen

The German broadcaster NDR reported on the study and included audio examples on its website. The blackbirds were chirping the alarm signal of Bolt electric kick-scooters, a sound normally only emitted when the vehicles are moved without permission.

Ornithologist Bernd Koop explained that the frequency of the e-scooter alarm signal matches the frequency and rhythm of blackbird song. Blackbirds normally imitate the songs of other birds. “But if they hear a tone or a sequence of tones more frequently, as with the e-scooters, they become curious. And if they like it, they imitate it,” the expert explained.

He assumes that the sound is also likely to spread quickly among blackbirds in other cities with electric scooters. “The blackbirds find the sound attractive,” says Koop. For the males, the appropriated song could help them find a mate. (in German)


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