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(CTV News)   Birds use the posted speed limit as a guide for avoiding cars. Deer use hypnotic tactics to try to stare your car into submission   (ctvnews.ca) divider line 40
    More: Cool, western france, McGill University, Pierre Legagneux  
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7750 clicks; posted to Main » on 21 Aug 2013 at 12:49 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



40 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-08-21 11:50:17 AM  
Tell that to the turkey I hit a few years back.
 
2013-08-21 12:43:10 PM  

blatz514: Tell that to the turkey I hit a few years back.


With God as my witness, I thought turkeys knew the posted speed limit.
 
2013-08-21 12:55:06 PM  
This assumes the average speed is the same as the posted speed limit, which in my anecdotal experience, is not the case usually.
 
2013-08-21 12:55:40 PM  
And moose just don't care.
 
2013-08-21 12:56:27 PM  
Came to say what CruJones said.  The article says the birds observed the average speed of vehicles, it said nothing of the speed limit.

Obviously it's anecdotal, but it seems the majority of people I see on the road drive slightly above the posted speed limit.
 
2013-08-21 01:06:16 PM  

CruJones: This assumes the average speed is the same as the posted speed limit, which in my anecdotal experience, is not the case usually.


And they never make the distinction if the drivers are African or European.

/Sorry, had to.
 
2013-08-21 01:08:31 PM  
Birds obey the speed limit and crap all over my car.
They're like Prius drivers of the animal kingdom.
 
2013-08-21 01:15:38 PM  
I hit birds every once in awhile on my gravel road.  I feel a little bad, but I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for an animal with the ability to fly getting hit by something that doesn't often leave the ground.
 
2013-08-21 01:22:41 PM  
I'd like to know why they seem to love flying in front of my car and pulling up out of the way at the last possible second
 
2013-08-21 01:27:12 PM  
When the yellow grosbeak was introduced into New Brunswick (Canada) in hopes it would eat spruce budworm, the birds gathered on the side of the road (to eat salty grit, and possibly forage) and were killed in large numbers because they took off too late and often flew into cars rather than away. Nowadays you seldom see them by the road at all, and those that do peck by the road fly away with nearly flawless timing.

This seems to indicate a partly inherited instinct combined with experience and learning by invididual birds. Natural selection operates on both levels, of course, weeding out birds with poor hard-wiring and slow learners.

The birds never did take to the spruce budworm as hoped, but they have adapted and thus form an unintended experiment in bird brain studies.

It makes sense to me that birds would be able to adapt to traffic, especially those species that frequent the ground around cattle and other herding animals. Cows are slower than cars but they will still kill you if they step on you, so birds would benefit from hardwiring that gives them a mechanism to avoid being stepped on while they feed on the ground. This mechanism would inititially be set to some general level or else would lack a database of estimated distances and times required to escape being stepped on. Experience and learning would fill in the database, making the birds ability to stay on the ground until they had to fly more accurate. The reward is more feeding time. The punishment, natural selection, which is to say, pre-mature death, Darwin awards, if you prefer.

This mental mechanism might be related to the mechanism which prevents collisions when birds fly, or it might be ground-take-off specific. Presumably, it could be evolved from already existing mechanisms, so that birds that have never frequented herds of browsing animals or predators would (at great cost) adapt to highways if given enough time.

The yellow grosbeaks took many years to adapt. This implies both natural selection and evolution of a mechanism in a bird that was largely NOT a ground-feeder in its native forests. After all, the whole point of introduction yellow grosbeaks is that it was hoped they would eat the spruce budworms, which are largely found on trees, not the ground.

If you got enough data on the species of birds you could sort them out by ground-feeders and tree-feeders, birds that use grit to grind their food, and birds that don't, etc. Then you could test several hypotheses about how the mechanism works and how fast it can adapt, as well as what the relative role of evolution versus the role learning is.

Sounds like fun for ornithologists and possibly population geneticists or students of brain organization and so forth.
 
2013-08-21 01:29:15 PM  
Birds, in my observation, have very tiny brains, but they nonetheless can do some remarkable things with them, such as fly in flocks. Simple rules, complex emergent behaviour. Neat.
 
2013-08-21 01:29:38 PM  

Tyrone Biggums: CruJones: This assumes the average speed is the same as the posted speed limit, which in my anecdotal experience, is not the case usually.

And they never make the distinction if the drivers are African or European.

/Sorry, had to.


I see someone passed their W.I.T. exam
 
2013-08-21 01:31:49 PM  

Dr J Zoidberg: I'd like to know why they seem to love flying in front of my car and pulling up out of the way at the last possible second


Bullshiat consciousness expanding exercise taught to them by Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
 
2013-08-21 01:40:45 PM  
In my experience, birds are the only animal that understand that cars can hit and kill them.
 
2013-08-21 01:44:48 PM  

Fano: Dr J Zoidberg: I'd like to know why they seem to love flying in front of my car and pulling up out of the way at the last possible second

Bullshiat consciousness expanding exercise taught to them by Jonathan Livingston Seagull.


It was a dare actually.
 
2013-08-21 01:55:23 PM  

theresnothinglft: Fano: Dr J Zoidberg: I'd like to know why they seem to love flying in front of my car and pulling up out of the way at the last possible second

Bullshiat consciousness expanding exercise taught to them by Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

It was a dare actually.


That's my theory, that or some kind of bet
 
2013-08-21 01:55:34 PM  
My guess is they learn based on how fast most of the cars are traveling rather than observing the number posted on the sign. It is a fairly basic instinct to judge the speed of a moving object and react to it with precise timing, it is a skill necessary for catching food, flying in formations and other things birds do.
 
2013-08-21 02:03:59 PM  

James10952001: My guess is they learn based on how fast most of the cars are traveling rather than observing the number posted on the sign. It is a fairly basic instinct to judge the speed of a moving object and react to it with precise timing, it is a skill necessary for catching food, flying in formations and other things birds do.


The null hypothesis, that birds can't read, is probably a correct one.
 
2013-08-21 02:17:09 PM  
FTFA:

"If you have an especially vulnerable species in one area, and you want to protect them... then I would suggest to make sure the speed limit is not changing all the time, and not exceeded by any driver," he said.

Well, it doesn't seem to matter as the evidence he produced seems to say that this is a problem that solves itself.
 
2013-08-21 02:31:40 PM  

GanjSmokr: I hit birds every once in awhile on my gravel road.  I feel a little bad, but I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for an animal with the ability to fly getting hit by something that doesn't often leave the ground.


Say what?
www.seriouswheels.com
 
2013-08-21 02:37:21 PM  
Why did the squirrel cross the road in Fairfax county?

To prove to the deer it could be done.
 
2013-08-21 02:40:49 PM  
buffalobeast.com
 
2013-08-21 02:56:31 PM  

GodlikeMole: Birds obey the speed limit and crap all over my car.
They're like Prius drivers of the animal kingdom.


Prius drivers crap all over your car?
 
2013-08-21 03:15:38 PM  
If birds can avoid getting hit, why can't cats? They seem to sprint out into traffic with their eyes closed.
 
2013-08-21 03:26:55 PM  

Sybarite: blatz514: Tell that to the turkey I hit a few years back.

With God as my witness, I thought turkeys knew the posted speed limit.

you are a dumbass.
 
2013-08-21 03:28:19 PM  
But for some reason they can't avoid rotating windmill blades.
 
2013-08-21 03:30:37 PM  

SpaceBison: GanjSmokr: I hit birds every once in awhile on my gravel road.  I feel a little bad, but I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for an animal with the ability to fly getting hit by something that doesn't often leave the ground.

Say what?
[www.seriouswheels.com image 850x637]


Those Duke Boys were completely responsible for the extinction of several ornithological species.
 
2013-08-21 03:42:34 PM  
I have seen a pigeon drafting behind a box van on the freeway. That little bastard was flapping maniacally trying to stay aloft in the vortices, but damned if he wasn't going 60mph.
 
2013-08-21 04:11:02 PM  
I didn't read all the comments but I think it's more about how fast the birds can actually fly.

For the most part, small birds aren't getting above 20mph (32kph).
 
2013-08-21 04:13:52 PM  
Bird law in this country - it's not governed by reason.
 
2013-08-21 04:24:26 PM  
This study matches my anecdotal evidence. For years I've been telling my friends that birds on the side of the road are tuned to the average speed of road traffic.

This went bad for them in the year 2000. That summer, the Sureté du Québec (the good folks who collect revenue on Québec's highways), stopped enforcing speed limits as a pressure tactic during contract negotiations. For a glorious 11 month period our highways were transformed into Autobahns. It was great for me because at the time my morning commute was 150km. My 300km daily drive was much more interesting at 170-180km/h than at the usual boring 110-115.

Anyhow, I rarely, if ever, hit wildlife of any kind before, or since. That summer, however, I perpetrated some serious carnage on the avian community, hitting birds on 6-7 different occasions. In one particular incident, a big black crow flew out in front of me as I was barrelling down on it at about 160. The poor thing hit square on the large rectangular headlight of my Euro-spec Volvo 740 Turbo. When I looked in my rearview mirror, all I could see was an absolute sphere of black feathers gently floating down to the ground, it looked for all the world like it had exploded. Strangely, there was no trace of it on the car.

/*engage rant mode*
Btw, before all the "speed limits exist for a reason" right-thinking folks chime in, I remind you that there was no carnage (other than of the avian sort) on Québec roads that year. In fact, 2000 was one of the safest on record. The main complaint during this period came from municipalities who were losing out on their fat share of revenue from speeding fines. I am amongst those who are convinced that, except in some very specific situations, speed limits on highways have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with tax collection. We should do away with them.
/*rant mode off*
 
2013-08-21 05:08:13 PM  

Russ1642: In my experience, birds are the only animal that understand that cars can hit and kill them.


I was traveling through New Mexico on the interstate, and I spied a furry critter on the right up ahead. It was a prairie dog, squatting right on the fog line, watching the traffic scream by at 75, like some rodent game of chicken. I barely missed him with my car-trailer wheel, and he didn't even flinch.
 
2013-08-21 06:03:36 PM  
Here we have birds that prefer to walk instead of fly. It doesn't always work out for them.

www.certsoft.com
 
2013-08-21 06:16:49 PM  

GanjSmokr: I hit birds every once in awhile on my gravel road.  I feel a little bad, but I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for an animal with the ability to fly getting hit by something that doesn't often leave the ground.


Confused the hell out of me when I drove through South Dakota. The complete lack of trees seems to have denied the birds any concept of "altitude", so they all fly at about grill height. I'm amazed I never managed to hit any.
 
2013-08-22 01:08:54 AM  
I call bs on the whole thing.
 
2013-08-22 04:13:12 AM  
pbfcomics.com
 
2013-08-22 07:46:34 AM  
Subby is a moron who sucks at reading comprehension.
 
2013-08-22 10:10:40 AM  

Galloping Galoshes: GodlikeMole: Birds obey the speed limit and crap all over my car.
They're like Prius drivers of the animal kingdom.

Prius drivers crap all over your car?


Prius drivers crap all over everything, including my car's gas mileage.
 
2013-08-22 11:18:25 AM  

THE GREAT NAME: Subby is a moron who sucks at reading comprehension.


Maybe subby trolled you.
 
2013-08-22 11:45:38 AM  

Russ1642: THE GREAT NAME: Subby is a moron who sucks at reading comprehension.

Maybe subby trolled you.


1. You need to be more subtle if you want to avoid outing yourself as subby
2. "Lol I troll u" etc bla blah
 
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