Action: Habituate birds to human visitors
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A replicated, controlled study from Australia found that bridled terns Sterna anaethetus in heavily disturbed had similar or higher reproductive success compared with less-disturbed sites, possibly suggesting that habituation had occurred.
Disturbance may well be more damaging to birds that are not use to humans. Therefore, habituating birds to the presence of human visitors may decrease nest abandonment or mortality, or increase reproductive success.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, controlled study from December-February in 1995-8 on rocky islets in Queensland, Australia (Gyuris 2003), found that bridled terns Sterna anaethetus on three high-disturbance sites had similar reproductive success to birds on two low-disturbance sites, but that intermediate-aged chicks from the disturbed sites were significantly heavier in one of two breeding seasons (average weight of 80 g for 12-13 day-old nestlings in the high-disturbance site vs. 80 g in the low). The author argues that this may be caused by birds habituating to humans faster at the heavily disturbed sites. High-disturbance sites were disturbed by ‘visiting’ (3-6 people, variable walking speeds and noise levels). Visitation was 3 continuous hours / week or 3 x 1 hours / week and disturbance regimes were rotated between plots. Low-disturbance sites experienced ambient disturbance during data collection and monitoring.