Study Sheds Light on Bird Collisions

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

It seems that the engineering feats of humans, such as wind turbines, telephone poles, pylons and buildings, are accidently causing the death of many birds. As birds are considered creatures with very good eye sight, we have not been able to understand why this happens so frequently. However, a closer look at how their vision works explains how most of the fatalities occur. A study done by Professor Graham Martin (Birmingham University) approached the project with the aim of understanding why these fatalities occur and to find out how birds perceive the world during flight.

Martin explained his findings saying that birds have a very unique visual system that is different to those of humans. He said: “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.” This makes them blind, so to speak, in regard to the direction they are traveling in. Their frontal vision is mainly used to detect movement, and as bird’s eyes are located on the side of their heads, looking ahead is not as easy for them as it is expected to be. Their vision is at its peak looking laterally and down in search of prey.

Some birds also have another disadvantage – the speed at which they travel. Some birds have extremely fast flight speeds, making it difficult for them to react on information received, especially when sight is further complicated by weather conditions, such as mist and rain.

The study, however, is not only negative, as measures to minimize deaths can now be taken. Prof. Graham Martin stated: “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.” Some organizations, such as the Royal Society of Birds have already been lobbying for wind turbines to be constructed in areas that are not directly in the flight paths of birds, and conservationists are supportive of coming up with solutions to reduce bird deaths.

Wind Power Threat to Birds

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Every country around the world is looking for alternative energy sources that will not harm the environment, as conservation of our planet has been at the forefront of many political discussions. Even though new technologies are being developed, every change made does have an impact on the environment in some way. Creating energy from wind also poses danger to the wildlife, especially to the lives of birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States has asked government to implement guidelines to energy developers, as rising bird deaths are causing great concern.

Wind energy operations could lead to the deaths of millions of birds if the correct guidelines are not put in place. In the year 2005, a report was released to highlight the threat to birds through manmade structures such as wind turbines, towers, power lines and telecommunication towers. The numbers were staggering, estimating that more than five hundred million birds were being killed by collisions with these structures in one year in the United States. The 2009 report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service showed that wind turbines were the causes of approximately four hundred and forty thousand bird deaths. Protecting vital bird species, such as bald eagles and golden eagles, is essential and the deaths of so many other birds are creating an imbalance in sensitive ecosystems. Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, commented on the guidelines proposal by saying: “We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife.”

Even though the American Bird Conservancy knows that the guidelines will not eliminate bird deaths completely, it will save millions of bird lives as the wind industry grows. Vice President of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, commented: “Let’s not fast-track wind energy at the expense of America’s birds. Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart, but without these, wind power simply can’t be considered a green technology.” Bird groups and foundations are hoping that their guidelines will be taken seriously by the government, in order for technology to develop without damaging the environment.

Windows: A Fatal Attraction for Birds

November 13, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Has a wild bird ever hit your window? Did you wonder if it survived? Well, these window-strikes are very common because birds simply do not see the glass. In certain light-conditions, the windows reflect the sky, or nearby plants. Some windows allow them to see through the house to the yard on the other side.

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