Purdue researchers have made a discovery in the search for a solution to the death of millions of birds due to collisions with objects such as airplanes, buildings and power lines each year.

According to a Purdue News Service release, Esteban Fernandez-Juricic, a Purdue professor of biological sciences, has found a new way to study birds' reactions to lights attached planes in order to deter them.

Fernandez-Juricic's team allows a bird, in this study a brown-headed cowbird, to fly towards a deviation in its path with two sides: one with a light attached to it, and one without. This is unique to the previous research, where two lights were utilized.

Researchers tested these birds with five wavelengths of lights and then measured the results of which of these lights deterred the birds. The birds were consistent in avoiding LED lights that had peaks at 470 and 630 nanometers. These appear red and blue to the human eye. They were observed to be undeterred by ultraviolet, green, and white lights. This research disproved previous theories that UV lights drive birds away.

This discovery, however, is just the beginning of this research. Fernandez-Juricic's team hopes to find how other species of birds react to lights compared to cowbirds, and also whether the birds' reaction was to the peak of the lights or the contrast of the lights.

"We now have a behavioral assay we can use to test these attraction and avoidance behaviors in a systematic, standardized matter, and we can do it on various species,” Fernandez-Juricic said. 

Recommended for you