We put up scarecrows to keep birds out of our gardens, which varying results, but how do you keep birds away from airports? That's pretty important, because a flock, or even one bird in the right place, can bring down a plane. LED technology that allows us to animate signs gives us a leg up, as new research shows.
In an effort to come up with a more effective strategy, a team of scientists from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the University of Rennes, with some help from the Airbus corporation, applied their knowledge of avian physiology to the problem. By exploiting the powerful visual system of raptors—a group of birds that includes eagles, falcons, and hawks—the scientists were able to devise an optical illusion that effectively dissuades these birds from loitering around airports—and it looks suspiciously like a pair of googly eyes. These findings were published this week in PLoS One.
The research presented birds with eight images, half of them animated, plus a plain sign as a control, and found that simple googly eyes that grow larger scared the birds off so well that they wouldn't return to the area, even after five weeks! Nothing else came close to deterring them. You can read the research paper at PLoS One, or the short version at Gizmodo.
(Image credit: Anthony Boigné)