18 Mar 2011:
Study Examines Why Birds
Fly Into Large, Human-made Objects
A new study that examines why birds often collide with large structures
that are clearly visible to humans — such as buildings, power lines, and wind turbines — suggests it comes down to a fundamental difference in the way birds view the world. While many believe bird flight is controlled primarily by vision, researchers at Birmingham University in England say there is a more subtle combination of relationships between birds’ visual capabilities, interpretation of sensory information, and behavior. “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,” says Graham Martin, a professor of avian sensory science at Birmingham and author of the study
published in The International Journal of Avian Science
. “Such behavior results in certain species being at least temporarily blind in the direction of travel.” Avian front vision is also tuned to detect movement rather than spatial details (which is helpful when hunting), and many birds are unable fly slowly, making it difficult to adjust their behavior when visibility is poor. While steps can be taken to reduce bird collisions, the study suggests this can be done only on a species-by-species basis.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.