Birds know road speed limits

Birds know road speed limits

Crows, house sparrows and other species judge when to flee the asphalt by average traffic rates rather than an oncoming car's speed

By Susan Milius, 13:57 PM September 23, 2013

Highway-savvy birds don’t read road signs but they may pay more attention to speed limits than some human drivers do.

As a car roars toward birds standing on the asphalt, they don’t check the driver’s exact speed when judging how soon to flap out of the way, says behavioral ecologist Pierre Legagneux of the University of Quebec in Rimouski.

Instead, the speed limit on the road, rather than the speed of the approaching vehicle, is a better predictor of how close a car gets before a bird startles...

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