Do birds in flight respond to (ultra)violet lighting?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Concerns for bird collisions with wind turbines affect the deployment of onshore and offshore windpower plants. To avoid delays in consenting processes and to streamline the construction and operation phase, functional mitigation measures are required which efficiently reduces bird mortality. Vision is the primary sensory system in birds, which for a number of species also includes the ultraviolet spectrum. Many bird species that are known to collide with offshore wind turbines are sensitive in the violet or ultraviolet spectrum. For species that are mainly active at lower ambient light levels, lighting may deter birds from the lit area. Utilizing (ultra)violet lights may in addition not disturb humans. However, we do not know whether UV-sensitive birds in flight actually respond behaviourally to UV lights. Methods: We therefore tested the efficacy of two types of lights within the violet (400 nm) and ultraviolet (365 nm) spectrum to deter birds from the lit area. These lights were placed vertically and monitored continuously between dusk and dawn using an avian radar system. Results: Relative to control nights, bird flight activity (abundance) was 27% lower when the ultraviolet light was on. Violet light resulted in a 12% decrease in overall abundance, and in addition, a vertical displacement was seen, increasing the average flight altitude by 7 m. Although temporal changes occurred, this effect persisted over the season below 40 m above sea level. Conclusions: Although the results from this pilot study are promising, we argue there still is a long way to go before a potentially functional design to mitigate collisions that has proven to be effective in situ may be in place. Avian radar, Displacement, Habituation, Mitigation, Seabirds, Ultraviolet, Wind turbine