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Birds Badly Misjudge Speed of Cars, Planes

Matt Cardy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Unfortunately, birds are bird brains when it comes to estimating the speed of large moving objects, such as cars and planes.

The problem, according to scientists who conducted experiments for the Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center lab, is that the fight instinct of birds is triggered by their proximity to other objects, not the speed they’re going.

As a result, the flying creatures often get waylaid by vehicles or sucked into jet engines.

Researchers from Purdue and Indiana State Universities, who led the study, used brown-headed cowbirds in simulated tests to find out just what happens.

Essentially, the cowbirds didn’t take off soon enough as simulated cars approached them at varying speeds and would have been struck by real cars while crossing a car lane about three yards in width.  As believed, the bird can only judge proximity, not speed.

Since it’s birds who usually get the worst of the deal in a collision, the study suggested possibly cutting speed limits in certain wildlife conservation areas to given them a better chance at survival.

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