Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Habituate birds to human visitors

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

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.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. 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.

    Study and other actions tested
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. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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