Ecological investigations
and surveys
assessment in Natura 2000 sites
Guidance and training on impact assessment in Natura 2000 sites
Management plans for protected areas and traditional landscapes
Monitoring programmes
and surveys
ongiong research
of endangered species
and plant photography

Birds and
traffic noise

Research projekt
supported by the Federal Ministry of
 Transport, Building and Housing
of the Federal Republic of Germany

Quantifying and management
significant impacts of traffic noise
on birds in transport planning


The effect of traffic noise on birds is an issue of increasing importance for the planning of roads.
A general threshold value has been used for the critical noise level which is likely to cause significant damages to populations of birds. This value does not take the behavior of the single species into account. Since the information on which it is based has been vague, it often lacks credibility and effectivenes at the level of the practical implementation.

The Project will

  • improve availability and use of data available about particilar responses of birds species to traffic noise
  • provide a sound basis for assessment of the significance of detrimental effects
  • address best ways of planning noise abatement
  • target the specific requirements of planning procedures for roands and railways
Duration of the project: two years (FEB 2005 - DEC 2007)
  Partnership: KIfL and Lärmkontor have joined for this task.
For birds and nature conservation issues please contact KIfL.
For more information about specific issues of niose measurement and abatement please ask our partner:

Basic assumptions

  • Traffic noise lessen habitat quality for breeding and staging birds.
    Traffic noise masks acoustic signals of birds and interfers with their ability to communicate.
    Wether noise is perceived as a disturbance or not, and then, at which level, depends on the specific role of acoustic signals in the communication strategy of a given species.

    Some species which communicate over medium to long distances with muffled calls are likely to be more easily disturbed even by low level but steady continous noise than very vocal species or species which use other intraspecific modes of communication such as which e.g. ritualised  flying patterns or specific postures.
    It is also necessary to differentiate between the different periodes of the life cycle. Behavioural response to noise may differ during breeding, moulting, staging and wintering time.
  • Breeding dinsity and breeding success can be used as indicators to assess the intensity of the noise bound disturbance.
  • Noise bound disturbance of staging birds can be assessed by monitoring bird density (in staging days per studied plot) an behavourial patterns.
  • Railway noise is dicontinuous.
    During the intervals between two passing trains acoustic communication will go on undisturbed. Therfore the intensity of disturbance is basically related with the density of traffic.

research activities

  • Collection and review of published and other available information from Germany and other countries abroad. Dreation of a detailed database to improve the availability of knowledge about effects of traffic noise on birds.
  • Field investigations in areas close to motorways and railways:
    - breeding birds: monitoring of breeding density and breeding success in selected plots (transects)

    - staging birds: monitoring of staging density (in staging days per studied plot and staging period) and specific behavoural patterns.
  • Control plots with similar vegetaion, land use and landscape pattern
Field investigations will be carried out in
  • lowlands in Northern Germany with hedgerows, wetlands, forests and lakes
  • midlands with feorest and rural landscapes of high diversity