Collisions between birds and aircraft (bird strikes) are expensive, risk human lives, and increase bird mortality. Aircraft lighting has been proposed as a potential means of enhancing avian responses to aircraft. Determining the optimal changes to lighting to reduce bird strikes is a complicated problem because avian visual systems differ markedly from that of humans. Icteridae, including Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater; hereafter “cowbirds”), are involved in bird strikes, have a well-described visual system, and respond to approaching vehicles and lights. Our goal was to assess cowbirds' responses to a remote-controlled (RC) aircraft fitted with lights tuned to the cowbird eye. On the basis of perceptual modeling (i.e. visual physiology, object and background reflectance, and ambient light conditions), we found that 470-nm lights (“blue” portion of the human spectrum) would be the most conspicuous wavelength for cowbirds. We used field experiments to examine cowbird response to 470-nm light treatments. Cowbirds exhibited alert behaviors to a stationary RC aircraft with lights on (both continuous and pulsing) in less than half the time they took to do so with lights off. In response to an approaching RC aircraft, cowbird alert responses were delayed at higher aircraft speeds with the lights off, and we noted a less pronounced speed effect with pulsing lights. However, this interaction effect of aircraft speed and lighting was eliminated with continuous lights. Additionally, higher ambient noise levels delayed cowbirds' avoidance responses to the RC aircraft, possibly influencing cowbird behavior as a sensory distractor. We suggest that some types of lighting may enhance the birds' detection and visual tracking of aircraft at high speeds and, thus, holds some potential as a means of reducing the frequency of bird strikes. This sensory-based approach also has implications for management of other bird–object collision problems.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 117 • No. 2