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Our electronics may be messing up birds' migratory patterns

Our Electronics May Be Messing Up Birds' Migratory Patterns

A German team found humans' electric equipment and AM radio signals have been confusing European robins' internal compasses, making it harder for our feathered friends to navigate.

BBC reports, "Scientists believe the effects are strongest when the birds fly over urban areas and the report says the birds are sometimes forced to switch to backup navigational systems using the sun and the stars instead."


Time reports "man-made radiation stemming from electronic devices" is to blame, but did say a researcher and co-author of the report from Germany's University of Oldenburg didn't believe it at first.

"'At first, I was highly skeptical that this could be the explanation.​ But if you have seemingly unlikely effects then the proof needs to be much stronger -- and that is why we have done so many experiments over seven years.'"

Outside Online explains the research shows our devices "pollute the atmosphere" with electromagnetic waves. Here's the difference:
"​[The researcher] covered wooden huts housing his robins with aluminum plating ... When his team grounded the plating-reducing the electromagnetic interference ... they found that the birds could orient themselves."
Now, inside those huts was thermal paper, and when the birds attempted to fly north, their feet would mark the paper in the direction they attempted to fly. And if you haven't already guessed it, the birds couldn't figure out where north was when the huts weren't grounded.

So, why do we care? Nature explains, "The work raises the controversial prospect that it might be necessary for humans to stop using the relevant part of the electromagnetic spectrum." That could include things like AM radio transmissions.

Still, other scientists have cautioned against concluding the findings applied to birds in all cities. The researchers are planning more experiments to understand how birds use their magnetic senses to navigate.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Peggy May 10 2014 at 5:44 PM

What about the wind turbines that smack them out of the air by the thousands?

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Brenda May 10 2014 at 2:46 PM

Maybe all thousands of electronic signals in the air are harmless. Still, I can't help but wonder.

The article mentions AM radio transmissions. This could be evidence that "Rush Limbaugh" broadcasts are "indeed harmful." Much of Limbaugh's programs are on AM radio.

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5 replies
Blackbird Cycles May 10 2014 at 2:42 PM

Just think of the BILLIONS of dollars in govmint grants that can be had to fund all this new "SCIENTIFIC" reasearch. And then the little darlings will still fly into windows and be slaughtered by the thousands by greenie wind turbines.

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1 reply
dusty754 Blackbird Cycles May 10 2014 at 4:10 PM

Yeah like your tax dollars are in some US government grant for German scientists. So where is your data about wind turbines slaughtering thousands of birds? These things are not fans. They do not draw birds into them like the intake of a fan would. If a bird is killed by them it is because the bird flew into a blade.

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dickn2000b May 10 2014 at 2:25 PM

Electromagnetic radiation (radio and radar waves) have been in existence for over 100 years...and the birds have survived. And, using Darwin's principles, those that can adapt will continue to survive. Man cannot abandon his technology. It is needed for OUR survival.
And finally: "Items that are screwing with them" This tagline from the AOL/Fluffpost Flakes, once again demonstrates the amateurish, inane, uneducated level of their journalistic abilities.

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1 reply
speakurowntruth dickn2000b May 10 2014 at 2:41 PM

Yes...they can adapt if the change is slow. But, with the advances that we have made and the speed at which the changes have taken place, it would make it much more difficult to "adapt".

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belldn3 May 10 2014 at 2:20 PM

Well, man is to blame.

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1 reply
frankerin belldn3 May 10 2014 at 3:49 PM

but not women, they just weep and whine about the destruction making males.

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Freddie May 10 2014 at 2:20 PM

I don't believe in the whole Global Warming thing. I believe Nature cycles itself, and that's why things are changing. That being said, when training the racing pigeons I don't let them out near cell towers, or a lot of overhead wires. Cell towers tend to screw up their internal homing devices. Who knows what they do to us.

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Charles May 10 2014 at 2:12 PM

Must be global warming!

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1 reply
aripalda Charles May 10 2014 at 2:26 PM

No, radio signals you idiot...

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patrickliveshere May 10 2014 at 8:07 PM

Ok, now that mankind has been blamed for everything and ruined the planet let's just pass out the high powered weapons with one bullet each. Then line up the whole damn population head to gun and after crying a lot and begging mother nature for forgiveness, start blowing each other brains out!! Would that please you human hater crap for brains!!

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allnightradioman May 10 2014 at 1:15 PM

I've been sick - my blood sugar and other related things. My doctors at first, wanted me to stick to a 2000 calorie diet per day. I did and got even worse. Near death actually. The doctors adjusted my medications several times and took me off of one. I didn't get much better. I started eating like I use to. I got better almost instantly. I gained a few pounds but not much. I still fit in the same clothes. The doctors tell me I'm going to die if I eat more than 2000 calories a day. Sure wish I could kill them. They are evils SOB's who kill people themselves. I lived. I survived. All because I took my life in my own hands and did what I needed to do to get better. My blood sugar average is now 97. My A1C is 6.1 - I'm alive and living. No thanks to By-the-Book Doctors!!!

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creativeart717 May 10 2014 at 1:14 PM

I have suspected this all along. I think that is what is killing our honey bees.

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1 reply
green gate farm creativeart717 May 10 2014 at 1:40 PM

Research has shown that GMO and pesticides are to blame for the honey bee die off. The nectar is altered, and does produce nutrition, or the plants have a built in pesticide. This causes the honey bees to die from starvation or poison. Being careful where you buy your seeds and flowers is critical to their survival. Especially in the spring when the big box stores and nurserys are buying in bulk. They don't care how the plants they sell are propagated.

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