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Understanding bird behavior key to developing risk reduction technologies

Years of studying birds and their relationship with their environment taught John Swaddle, professor of biology at the College of William & Mary, the importance of understanding animals’ instincts and behaviors when developing methods for improving human-wildlife interactions. Swaddle used what he knew about different bird species’ tendencies to create a pair of systems that minimize collisions with tall man-made structures, such as skyscrapers or wind turbines, and keep birds away from areas where their presence may be unwelcome or a hazard, such as on farmland or airports. He presented his findings in February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas. In his presentation, Swaddle introduced two different technologies, the Sonic Net and the Acoustic Lighthouse. A bald eagle surveys the landscape from a treetop. Eagles and other large birds seeking a high perch or looking down for prey below may accidentally collide with wind turbine blades. Photo credit: Martin Keus, courtesy of Quoddy Tours CC 2.0 Testing Sonic Nets to remove birds from risky areas When working on the Sonic Net, Swaddle kept the long-standing practice of scarecrows on farmland in mind. He recognized that scarecrows only temporarily discourage birds from visiting an area because birds learn that they are not a real threat. “Birds are pretty smart, they habituate, and if the threat is not real they know and they stick around,” Swaddle said. “Those kinds of technologies just show diminishing returns, no matter how high-tech the technology gets. Birds will still habituate…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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