Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not so eagle eyed: New study reveals why birds collide with human-made objects

Date:
March 17, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
From office block windows to power lines and wind turbines, many species of bird are prone to colliding with large human-made objects, many of which appear difficult not to notice to human eyes. A new study outlines a new approach to understanding how birds see the world and why they find pylons and turbines so hard to avoid.

This osprey is sitting on this high voltage pole with his catch clutched in his talons.
Credit: iStockphoto/Don Treadwell

From office block windows to power lines and wind turbines, many species of bird are prone to colliding with large human-made objects, many of which appear difficult not to notice to human eyes. A new study recently published in IBIS outlines a new approach to understanding how birds see the world and why they find pylons and turbines so hard to avoid.

Related Articles


The problem of bird collisions is a serious concern for conservationists. Research suggests that bird mortality caused by collisions with human artifacts is the largest unintended human cause of avian fatalities worldwide.

Collisions with large and prominent obstacles may even threaten the survival of endangered species. In Europe over a 16-year period it was estimated that approximately 25% of juvenile and 6% of adult White Storks Ciconia ciconia died annually from power line collisions and electrocutions.

"From a human perspective it appears very odd that birds so often collide with large objects as if they don't see them. It is widely held that flight in birds is primarily controlled by vision, an idea captured by the phrase 'a bird is a wing guided by an eye," said Professor Graham Martin from Birmingham University. "However birds live in a different visual world to humans."

To get a clearer understanding of how birds view the world Professor Martin turned to sensory ecology, a field of study which investigates how sensory information underlies an animal's behaviour and it's interactions with the environment.

"Previously most proposed solutions to bird collisions only consider a human perspective of the problem," said Martin. "Put simply, it has been a matter of finding a solution to bird collision problems based upon making the perceived hazard more conspicuous to human observers, not birds."

The research reveals that a subtle set of interrelationships exists between a bird's visual capacities, the interpretation of sensory information and the behaviour of birds when flying in open airspace.

"When in flight, birds may turn their heads to look down, either with the binocular field or with the lateral part of an eye's visual field," said Martin. "Such behaviour results in certain species being at least temporarily blind in the direction of travel."

Dr Martin also explores how avian frontal vision is tuned for the detection of movement, rather than spatial detail. When a bird is hunting this detection may be more important than simply looking ahead into open airspace. Birds also have a restricted range of flight speeds, for many birds it is simply impossible for them to fly slowly, making it difficult to adjust the rate of information they gain if visibility is reduced by rain, mist or low level lights.

"Armed with this understanding of bird perception we can better consider solutions to the problem of collisions," said Martin. "While solutions may have to be considered on a species by species basis, where collision incidents are high it may be more effective to divert or distract birds from their flight path rather than attempt to make the hazard more conspicuous."

It may also be best to assume that birds are more likely to be looking down and laterally rather than forwards, meaning a signal placed on an obstacle may also be missed. Instead alerting sounds or signals placed a suitable distance from the hazard may be more efficient.

"The human viewpoint provides just one way of appreciating and understanding the world. Yet such is the difference between human and birds' eye views that a human perspective on the problem of bird collisions is quite misleading," concluded Martin. "The evidence outlined in this study explains why some species are more vulnerable to collisions with obstacles than others, and helps to inform the development of guidelines for reducing collisions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martin. G. Understanding bird collisions with man-made objects: a sensory ecology approach. IBIS, March 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01117.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Not so eagle eyed: New study reveals why birds collide with human-made objects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316222022.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, March 17). Not so eagle eyed: New study reveals why birds collide with human-made objects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316222022.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Not so eagle eyed: New study reveals why birds collide with human-made objects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316222022.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins