Saturday, March 04, 2006

Scarecrow Gets Radar

by Phoebe Dey

A fake falcon and a radar-activated cannon work better at keeping birds away from oilsands waste than the current system, according to research from the University of Alberta.

Oilsands mining produces waste dangerous to waterfowl. The birds, such as ducks, geese and swans, are attracted to freshwater ponds for foraging, roosting and nesting, and as stopover sites during migration.

Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair from the U of A's Faculty of Science and her former undergraduate student, Rob Ronconi, compared the industry standard - randomly firing cannons and stationary human effigies - to a radar-activated system which fires cannons and also activates large peregrine falcon effigies only when birds approach. The radar detects the birds and relays the information to a computer that automatically deploys the deterrents.

The system was also able to detect four times as many birds as visual sightings and could also detect the animals at night - particularly critical for bird deterrence because shorebirds, ducks and geese are nocturnal.

Safety’s booming for the birds - ExpressNews - University of Alberta


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