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Behavioral Responses of Red-winged Blackbirds to Simulated Predators: Evidence of Potential Habituation to Video Stimuli

  • Author(s): Wandrie, Lucas J.
  • Reed, Wendy
  • Clark, Mark
  • Karels, Kira
  • Klug, Page
  • Linz, George
  • et al.
Abstract

Wildlife damage to crops has a significant impact on crop productivity, and mitigating the impacts of damage requires managers to employ multiple and creative solutions. The development of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, drones) provides a new tool that may be effective in managing bird damage to crops. We used multisensory video/audio playback to assess the behavioral responses of red-winged blackbirds (RWBL) to videos of UAS. Captive birds were individually exposed to movies comprised of five video clips that varied in stimulus content on two occasions. Video stimuli included a known predator, UAS, and avian controls (birds that are not predators of RWBL). Although all test birds interacted with the movies, not all displayed the behaviors that were measured. Of those that did display the behaviors measured, responses to most video stimuli were reduced during the second trial compared to the first. These findings suggest that blackbirds are responding to videos; however, they habituate to video stimuli perceived as a non-threat and adjust their behavioral responses accordingly.

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