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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Habituate birds to human visitors Bird Conservation

Key messages

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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.


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.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.