- Birds have moved closer to areas inhabited by humans during pandemics
- Sixty-six of the 82 species were ‘outnumbered’ in areas where humans live and flock, such as airports, major roads and urban areas.
- Bald eagles seen more often in cities with the strongest lockdowns
- Red-throated hummingbirds were three times more likely to be seen near airports
- It is possible that more birds were observed because people were home at the height of the epidemic or that there was an unknown change in behavior.
A new study finds that while humans have reduced their mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic, birds have significantly increased their mobility.
Researchers from the University of Manitoba and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology looked at 4.3 million bird records from March to May from 2017 to 2020 and found that 80 percent (66) of the 82 species were ‘overpopulated’ in areas. Where humans live and flock, such as airports, major roads and urban areas.
Researchers found that America’s national bird, the bald eagle, was seen more frequently in cities with the strongest lockdowns.
Birds have moved closer to human-inhabited areas during epidemics. Bald eagles seen more often in cities with the strongest lockdowns
Other birds, such as the red-throated hummingbird, were three times more likely to be seen within two-thirds of an airport.
It is not clear at this time why the birds have been observed closer to humans, the researchers said.
However, they speculate that this may be because more people were birdwatching at home at the height of the pandemic or perhaps because of an unknown change in behavior.
Sixty-six of the 82 species were ‘outnumbered’ in areas where humans live and flock, such as airports, major roads and urban areas.
It is possible that more birds were observed because people were home at the height of the epidemic or that there was an unknown change in behavior.
“A lot of species we really care about have become more abundant in the human landscape during pandemics,” said Nicola Koper, one of the study’s co-authors. Statement.
‘I was amazed at how many species were affected by the reduction in traffic and activity during the lockdown.’
Experts aren’t sure why the birds have been seen close to key areas, such as cities, where humans live and work.
It could be that more people were indoors, bird watching, or it could have been something else during the height of the pandemic.
‘We also need to be aware of the detection problem,’ explained co-author Alison Johnston.
‘Was the higher number of species being reported because people could finally hear the birds without all the traffic noise, or was there an actual ecological change in the number of birds present?’
Black and white warblers including others spotted close to airports
Experts found that some species were less likely to be seen near human habitats, such as the red-tailed hawk.
It is possible that fewer cars on the road are resulting in fewer animal deaths.
However, the results were observed across the entire spectrum – from large to small – suggesting that the increased numbers were true for reasons other than the calm environment.
The researchers wrote in the study, “Our results show that human activity affects many birds in North America and suggest that we can make urban spaces more attractive to birds, by reducing traffic.” and reduce disturbances caused by human transportation.”
The researchers used volunteers, as well as pandemic and pre-pandemic e-bird reports, to come up with their observations.
The findings held true for both larger birds (which are easier to spot) as well as smaller birds, which are harder to detect under traffic noise.
Additional studies are needed to know whether the behavior is part of a long-term change by birds.
Experts will look at their lifespan, population size and other inputs to determine how the birds are reacting to human presence.
“The focus on nature for so many people in North America and around the world is critical to understanding how wildlife react to our presence,” said study lead author Michael Shrimpf.
The study was published last month in the journal science advance.