12 Jun 2013:
Bird-Mimicking Mobile Apps
Harmful to Species, UK Groups Say
Wildlife officials in the UK are urging people not to use mobile phone apps that mimic bird songs in nature reserves, warning that the devices can harm some sensitive species
, particularly during breeding season. The increasingly popular apps, which use recordings of bird calls to lure the birds closer for
Icon for Chirp! app
photographs or better viewing, can distract birds from critical tasks, such as feeding their young, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT), a conservation group that oversees 42 reserves, is discouraging the use of the mobile apps at its reserves
, calling it an intentional disturbance of sensitive species such as the Nightjar, a nocturnal bird that has experienced a recent recovery in the area. “I’m sure visitors would be devastated if they realized the possible disturbance they were causing to wildlife,” said Chris Thain, a manager at the DWT’s Brownsea Island reserve. Hilary Wilson, a biologist who helped develop the Chirp! app for the UK-based developer iSpiny
, told the BBC that the technology is meant to be an educational tool, but agreed that the sounds could have a powerful effect on birds. “Out of consideration for both the birds and fellow birdwatchers, just keep the volume low,” she said.
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