Birds in Berlin learn to mimic signature S-Bahn tones

Birds in Berlin learn to mimic signature S-Bahn tones

Starlings in the German capital have proven themselves to be true Berliners: at one of the city's most bustling train stations, a murmuration has learnt to repeat the signature S-Bahn alert tones.

Berlin birds mimic S-bahn tones

Starling’s taking shelter in Berlin Alexanderplatz, one of the busiest stations for trains, buses and trams in the German city, have been found to mimic the recognisable three-note alert which sounds before S-Bahn and U-Bahn doors close before departing the station.

Anyone who has lived in Berlin or spent a longer period in the capital is likely to have this “bo-bee-bo” sound burned into their brain, an affliction now also known to affect sky-dwelling locals. Though somewhat lacking in variety, the starlings’ new song may be quicker to find a place in Berliners' hearts than the unwelcomed “ambient” background muzak that the public transport association BVG introduced in some Berlin stations in 2022.

Singing S-Bahn starlings sheltering from falcons

According to Tagesspiegel, an estimated 200 birds at Alexanderplatz (which was recently voted one of the most horrific stations in the capital), are hiding out from a local cast of falcons, terrorising the area surrounding their new hangout. The maze of platforms and staircases at Alexanderplatz is now proving a cosy, sheltered and prime crumb-finding spot for the murmuration during the dark winter months.

Berlin has an estimated starling population of 25.000 and according to NABU, Germany’s Nature Protection Association, the past 20 years have seen more starlings spend the winter season in Berlin. Milder winters caused by climate change mean starlings now have good chances of finding food during the Berlin winter months, which are known to be particularly unwelcoming, meaning that fewer birds are migrating to Spain and North Africa to spend the winter.

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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