There Are Things That Birds Just Won't Fly Over...

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Studying Bird Flight Patterns Can Lead to Better Conservation Efforts
It's pretty obvious that a lot of human activities affect birds directly (millions of birds are killed by cars, cats, buildings, pesticides, etc), but just the presence of human structures on the ground can apparently affect bird flight patterns and populations. Indeed, birds might seem completely free to fly wherever they want, but they are actually greatly influenced by what's on the ground below where they fly. If we can better understand this interaction, we could very probably improve bird habitat protection.

[Dylan Kesler, assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife at the University of Missouri's School of Natural Resources] has found that non-migrating resident birds tend to travel over forest "corridors," which are areas protected by trees and used by wildlife to travel. Birds choose to travel over forests because they can make an easier escape from predators as well as find food. Man-made features such as roads, as well as gaps forests from agriculture or rivers, can restrict birds to certain areas. When forests are removed, bird populations become isolated and disconnected, which can lead to inbreeding and weaker, more disease-prone birds. (source)

This type of information could be used by foresters and government to plan effective corridors. Our approach to protecting habitat needs to be effective, it's not enough to just protect a lot of land if that land is in the wrong places...