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Experience may make birds more prone to vehicle collisions

Cara J

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You might think that city birds would get “street smart,” learning to evade fast-moving vehicles. But exposure to traffic may actually increase some birds’ chances of being hit, according to a new study. The researchers found that inexperienced rock pigeons (Columba livia) fled sooner from an oncoming truck than pigeons that had nearly collided with the truck in the past. “It shows that we can’t just assume that as birds become more experienced with vehicles, that they’ll be better at getting out of the way. It’s quite possible that the opposite could be occurring,” said Travis DeVault, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Research Center and lead author of a recent study in the Journal of Zoology. Past research had suggested that some birds can learn vehicle safety. One study found that young Florida scrub-jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) are more likely to be hit by cars than older birds, and another study found that birds in Europe wait longer to flee from oncoming vehicles in areas with lower speed limits. But until now, no one had tested the effects of traffic exposure in a controlled experiment, says DeVault. To see what birds really learn from traffic, DeVault [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/experience-may-make-birds-more-prone-to-vehicle-collisions/

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