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Bird Collisions

April 11, 2011

A new study suggests that to keep birds from crashing into manmade objects, we need to stop treating them like humans with wings.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

How to look like a bird…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Birds have very good vision, so it’s a mystery why they’re involved in so many lethal collisions with manmade objects like power lines and windows. But according to ornithologist Graham Martin of the University of Birmingham in the UK, it’s because the things birds pay the most attention to, like prey items, roosting spots, and other birds, are located to either side of them or on the ground.

GRAHAM MARTIN (University of Birmingham):

Basically, birds will use lateral vision to do anything difficult.  

HIRSHON:

That makes it easy to crash into things that are right in front of them. He says collisions are actually threatening some bird populations.

MARTIN:

The important message is that you don’t assume that if you put something up to ameliorate the problem that’s obvious to humans that it’s going to be obvious to birds. Birds live in different worlds than we do and you’ve got to work within that world that the bird inhabits if you really want to do something about it.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.