Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Cowbird, Starling, Goose, and Mallard walk into a rave…

and promptly left because the lasers were annoying. Well, not really according to a 2002 article. Bird damages to aircraft have left to abundant studies to determine effective means for deterring birds from airstrips and heavily utilized flyzones. Various methods have been attempted (auditory, visual, chemical, etc.), but a study actually looked to determined the effectiveness of lasers as a bird deterrent.

Using a 10-mW, continuous-wave, 633-nm laser, Blackwell et. al (2002) tested aversion of commonly plane-crashing birds to perches where the lasers were pointed or targeted at the birds directly. Neither European Starlings nor Brown-headed Cowbirds were deterred by laser treatment. Rock Pigeons (some of the least intelligent of all birds) only avoided laser targeting for the first five minutes of an 8-minute trial before the finally wised up. As for the waterfowl, Canada Geese were effectively dispersed from patches treated by the lasers during the 20-minute period, unlike the brave and magnificent Mallard who grew accustomed to the lasers after 20 minutes.

The obvious conclusion from this article is that birds are more amazing than lasers, and we should be prepared to become much more inventive when trying to fly our laughable steel imitations in their space. This article reminded me of one of my favorite XKCD comics.


  1. I doubt they would become accustomed to this laser.
    but I think that somehow I might be missing the point of deterring them.