Wild Bird Mixes - When Not To Feed Birds!
Millions of people around the world enjoy feeding the wild birds. By offering bird foods it is possible to help the birds and to enjoy watching them feed. But perhaps not if you happen to live very close to an airport.
Birds in flight pose a serious threat to aircraft and this is especially true during take offs and landings. 97% of bird strikes take place during these phases of powered flight. The dangers were perfectly illustrated by the story of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullivan. This pilot hit the headlines and became a hero when he was forced to land his plane on the Hudson River in New York following a bird strike. That episode ended happily as all of the passengers were saved but bird strikes can lead to disaster.
It is vital that birds are kept away from airports. Unfortunately airfields are attractive to wild birds. This is because they feature large areas of undeveloped land. Such land is at a premium in urban areas where the birds’ natural habitats have been seriously eroded.
Disrupting Wild Birds
Airports employ many methods to deter the birds. These include removing seed-bearing plants to reduce the sources of food available and covering nearby ponds with netting to restrict landing areas. Bushes and trees which can be used as nesting sites are removed. These methods address the habitat but attempts are also made to modify bird behaviour.
Birds of prey are flown and dogs deployed to warn birds that the area features predators. Lasers are used to simulate predators and noise generators are deployed to disrupt the birds. Even plane activity can be modified. Spotters warn planes of bird activity so they can divert their course and radar is used to plot the location of birds.
Now a new method for deterring birds is being trialled. A study led by Professor John Swaddle at the College of William and Mary Institute for Integrative Bird Behaviour Studies has revealed that a "sonic net" will reduce the numbers of birds at airports. This involves surrounding the airport with sounds that interrupt bird communication. The noise makes the birds uncomfortable and so they leave the area. The sounds emitted by the system are played at the same pitch as the bird’s alarm calls. It is disconcerting for the birds not to be able to hear these.
Tests were conducted at a military airfield in Virginia using a large outdoor speaker and an amplifier. The incidence of birds was reduced by 82% in the area considered to be within the "sonic net" and by 65% in adjacent areas.
This new approach could be rolled out across major airports around the world. It is good news for aviation but not for bird lovers living close to airports. The provision of wild bird mixes could prove rather pointless if your garden is in close proximity to a runway. Habitats for birds continue to decline and so it is becoming even more important to offer food, water and nesting boxes in urban areas which are not close to airports.
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