Birds Count on Drivers to Obey Speed Limits
- A new study concludes that birds on roadways make decisions about when to lift off to safety based not on how fast an oncoming car is approaching, but on the average traffic speeds of a given road.
- Two researchers in Canada recorded dozens of instances of birds taking flight as they approached in a car. Based on their measurements of flight initiation distances and other factors, the pair concluded that birds accumulate traffic speed information over a period of days, weeks, months or longer, and use that information to decide when to fly to safety in the face of oncoming traffic.
- This study suggests bird-vehicle collisions are primarily the result of people driving over the speed limit, and birds being taken by surprise by the excessive speed of a vehicle. These results are another reminder of the importance of obeying speed limits.
By Dr. Becker
If you’ve come upon birds in the roadway while you’re out driving (and who hasn’t), as you slowed down to give them time to get out of the way, you might have wondered exactly what it is that finally causes them to scatter or take flight. Do they suddenly see your vehicle? Do they hear it? And why is it that something as huge and threatening as an oncoming automobile doesn’t scare them off long before you get close enough to notice them?
A new study published August 21 in Biology Letters1 may provide at least a partial answer.
Birds on Roadways Assess Average Speeds Traveled
According to Pierre Legagneux, behavioral ecologist at the University of Quebec and one of the study authors, birds estimate highway speed limits to determine how much time they need to get safely airborne in the face of oncoming traffic. This comes as a bit of a surprise, since it has been generally assumed birds in roadways gauge the speed of each vehicle as it heads in their direction.
In the new study, Legagneux and Simon Ducatez of McGill University in Montreal conclude that birds observe the speed at which cars travel over a certain road for many days, weeks, months or longer, and build a memory map based on the average speed. As cars approach, they access their memory maps and make decisions about when it’s time to lift off.
According to Phys.org the researchers, armed with a stopwatch, drove the roadways and timed how long it took birds ahead of them in the roadway to take flight. When a bird flew in front of them, they timed the seconds it took to drive at a constant speed to the point of flight. They called this measure the Flight Initiation Distance (FID). Then they stopped to measure the distance traveled. Next, they varied the speed at which they drove, sometimes going under the speed limit, sometimes over it, and sometimes moving at the speed limit.
They also tested birds on different roads with different speed limits, from 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) to 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph). This is how they discovered the birds weren’t using the speed of individual cars to make decisions, but rather the average speeds driven on different roads.
They also discovered that birds hanging out in the middle of the road took flight sooner than those standing closer to the side of the road.
The researchers recorded a total of 134 instances of birds taking flight. Over 20 species were involved in the study, with over half from just three species: carrion crows, house sparrows and Eurasian blackbirds. Bigger, heavier birds tended to have longer FIDs than smaller birds. And FIDs grew longer for all birds as the speed limit increased.
The study suggests most vehicle-bird accidents on roadways are the result of drivers exceeding the speed limit. Since a great many birds are killed by cars, this study gives us all another good reason not to drive over the speed limit.
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Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… Adopt Just One More Pet or consider becoming a Foster parent for pets… Also check out: Little Critter: Just One More Pet
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
Recent and Seasonal Shots
As I have been fighting Cancer… A battle I am gratefully winning, my furkids have not left my side. They have been a large part of my recovery!! Ask Marion
Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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- Smartest Dog In the World, Chaser – 60 Minutes With Anderson Cooper June 15, 2015By Marion Algier – Just One More Pet (JOMP) – Cross-Posted at AskMarion Anderson Cooper met Chaser, a dog who can identify over a thousand toys, and because of whom, scientists are now studying the brain of man’s best friend. Chaser is also the subject of a book: Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog […]justonemorepet
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Great Book for Children and Pet Lovers… And a Perfect Holiday GiftOne More Pet Emily loves animals so much that she can’t resist bringing them home. When a local farmer feels under the weather, she is only too eager to “feed the lambs, milk the cows and brush the rams.” The farmer is so grateful for Emily’s help that he gives her a giant egg... Can you guess what happens after that? The rhythmic verse begs to be read aloud, and the lively pictures will delight children as they watch Emily’s collection of pets get bigger and bigger.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!
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