Lost in Migration

European_Robin_2German scientists have found that radio waves can throw birds off their migration paths. The phenomenon is most acute in cities. The paper was published in Nature last week.

The scientists discovered the issue when trying to research the impacts of subtle magnetic fields on bird migration in their lab in Oldenburg, Germany, a BBC article reports. A much-replicated method of studying bird migration and magnetic fields didn’t work until the scientists shielded their experiment from radio waves of a certain frequency.

They study found that birds are adversely affected by EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation and levels much lower than humans are. So low, in fact, that the BBC article says only quantum level phenomena can explain it.

The research was conducted for seven years. In the BBC article, a scientist explained that the team wanted to be extra careful before reporting the unexpected findings, which they knew would be controversial.

Read the Nature article here. (Subscription or fee required for full article.)
BBC article here.
Article in The Australian, here.

Photo: European robin, the subject of the lab experiments. By Sunnyjim (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-uk (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Thousands of Grebes Crash in Utah Desert

eared grebe utahSome 5,000 eared grebes mistook pavement for water at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports. Hundreds of the birds died after their hard landing. Because the birds cannot take flight from dry land, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources personnel collected the living birds and transported them to nearby ponds.

Other birds were treated for their injuries or euthanized, the Tribune article says. The article also notes that the night was foggy, the pavement was wet and the grebes were on their spring migration to the Great Salt Lake.

The article also notes that 17 months ago migrating eared grebes crashed in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where about 1,500 of the grebes died.

Read the Salt Lake City Tribune article here.
Check out the slide show with the article, which includes beautiful grebe photos and state wildlife staffers at work.
Read a Utah DWR newsletter on loons and grebes.

Photo Copyright Nicky Davis. Eared grebe in happier times. Photo used courtesy of the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources.