Birds are aware of speed limits on roads

Birds cannot read road signs, but they know that some roads have higher speed limits than others. They will take off further away from an approaching car on a faster road than on a slower road – regardless of the speed of the car.

Owl in front of car

Scientists found that where there was a 50-kilometre-per-hour speed limit, birds on the road typically took off when the car was about 15 metres away, whereas on a 110-km-per-hour road, they took off when a car was nearer 75 metres away. They did this even when faced with a car travelling faster on the slow road or slower on the fast road.

The researchers think the birds treat cars as predators, and realise that in some parts of their environment the predators are more dangerous than in others. Learn more here or here.

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