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Can birds tell what a road's speed limit is ?


Posted on Thursday, 22 August, 2013 | Comment icon 10 comments | News tip by: Still Waters


Image credit: CC 3.0 Alvesgaspar

 
A new study has revealed that birds react differently to cars on a road depending on the speed limit.

Biologists Pierre Legagneux and Simon Ducatez started to investigate the behavior of birds that had landed on the road while they were driving home from the lab. What they found was that the birds seemed to know what speed the cars on that road generally traveled at and took off sufficiently in advance to avoid being hit, even when the car in any given instance might be driving slower than the limit.

"What was really cool is that birds did not respond to the speed of the car but rather to the speed limit of the road section," said Legagneux. It is believed that the birds perceive the vehicles as predators and assign different levels of danger to different roads based on the typical speed of the cars they've encountered there.

"Birds cannot read road signs, but they know that some roads have higher speed limits than others."

  View: Full article |  Source: New Scientist

  Discuss: View comments (10)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Leonardo on 21 August, 2013, 18:36
Bird-brains, huh.
Comment icon #2 Posted by brlesq1 on 22 August, 2013, 7:46
How cool.
Comment icon #3 Posted by YukiEsmaElite0 on 22 August, 2013, 16:57
Wonder what happens if they change the speed limit... Splat. :)
Comment icon #4 Posted by Oppono Astos on 22 August, 2013, 18:53
So presumably the birds run hit/killed by vehicles are victims of drivers who break the speed limit?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Mantis914 on 23 August, 2013, 16:27
I can tell you this though. Birds play this game of divebombing in front of cars for no apparent reason. I've seen it happen and had it happen to me where a bird will dive in front of a moving car like it was a game. Some times they make it, some times not but it seems they are having fun in doing it.
Comment icon #6 Posted by sarah_444 on 23 August, 2013, 16:51
I call them Suicide Birds. This happened a while ago, but one evening I was driving near the lake and I had a Canada Goose fly up parallel to my car in the next lane. It flew at the same speed the car was going for a few seconds and then took off ahead of me! It was like some kind of really weird drag race. lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by kapow53 on 24 August, 2013, 0:14
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3351960/Crows-may-be-smarter-than-apes.html
Comment icon #8 Posted by rodentraiser on 30 August, 2013, 22:04
I think you can exclude grouse in this study. When I lived up in the hills, I drove up on the first grouse I'd ever seen while they were sitting in the middle of the road. I wasn't going that fast and I was used to birds taking off when my truck got within a yard or so of them, so imagine my surprise when I had to slam the brakes on when the grouse didn't so much as twitch a feather as they was about to be run over. All I could think of was: "And people have to hunt these things? Why don't they just run them over in cars?" On the other hand, has anyone ever noticed th... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by xsas on 30 August, 2013, 22:10
I wonder how seagulls work out the dodgems at the funfairs in the holiday resorts?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Realm on 7 September, 2013, 7:20
The road runner obviously didn't care what the speed limit was.


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