Friday, 4 November 2016


Starlings - spooked by rockets and bangers?
There is "little evidence" to suggest that fireworks harm wild birds or affect their conservation status.

That is the official position of the RSPB which states: "Information suggests that the effect of firework displays on birds is little different from that of a thunderstorm.

"However, we  continue to monitor the situation  to ensure the best course of action for wild bird conservation."

The charity spokesperson continues: "Setting off fireworks close to nesting and roosting birds can cause disturbance.

"To minimise any adverse impact of fireworks on birds, organisers of firework displays should avoid launching rockets near to sensitive wildlife areas such as nature reserves and roosting sites."

It adds: "If a summer firework display were to  set up close to a nesting site of a Schedule 1 species, any disturbance resulting in nest failure would be classed as reckless disturbance and be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act."

The organisation, PETA (people for the Ethical Treatmentof Animals) has a different view.

Taking a perspective on the traditional July 4 Independence Day celebrations, commentator Michelle Sherrow says: " Fireworks have been  blamed for the deaths of 5,000 birds in Arkansas.

"The professional-grade explosives scared red-winged blackbirds and European starlings out of their nests and sent them into panicked flight. 

                   Male red-winged blackbird - nesting hens went into panic mode                                      
"The night-blind birds crashed into houses, signs, and other obstacles, causing blunt-force trauma and death.

"Besides being frightening, fireworks produce plumes of smoke that are harmful to animals’  respiratory systems and pollute standing water.

"The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s fireworks display after a 2006 show caused nesting seabirds to flee their nests and abandon their chicks."

Ms Sherrow continues: "Fireworks were also blamed for the deaths of about 50 birds found dead on a street in Sweden.

"You can help birds and other animals by asking officials in your town to ban fireworks and switch to laser light shows which provide all the awe of fireworks displays but are more affordable and kinder to animals, birds and the environment."

Staying in the US, the Audobon Society published an article in which blogger Catherine Griffin referred to Dutch scientists using radar to track bird disturbances in grassland and wetland areas during firework displays.

She wrote: "They found that birds in those areas had a tendency to take flight en masse during displays - a non-fatal move in open areas but more deadly in urban locations."
Her conclusion: "If you want to see  fireworks and protect birds, too, the best thing  is to attend a commercial display rather than setting off your own pyrotechnic devices.

"Commercial fireworks are concentrated in one location rather than in several locations at once which is what often happens in neighborhoods.

"This allows birds to take off and land again in a “safer” location rather than continuing to flee noises coming at them from all directions.

"In addition, professional displays often take into account the natural environment and any impacts they might have." 

Photo credits:
* Eurasian starling: Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) via Wikimedia Commons
* Red-winged blackbird: Walter  Siegmund via Wikimedia Commons

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