Fireworks could have long-lasting effects on wild birds, study says

Fireworks could have long-lasting effects on wild birds, study says

Fireworks are the go-to spectacle for celebrating the holidays. Especially with 2023 around the corner, cities around the world will set off fireworks to usher in the New Year.

Environmentalists question the effects these visual displays can have on wildlife, particularly the negative impact on wild birds.

A study in the Conservation Letter, conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, tracked migratory patterns of geese in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

According to the study, the combination of smoke, acoustics and bright lights can disorient and provoke fear in animals.

The study tracked the movement of hundreds of geese over the New Year. The results data found both short and long-term impacts from fireworks.

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Data from 347 geese showed on New Year's Eve, birds left nesting sites and traveled to areas further away from human settlements. In some cases, birds flew up to 500 km more than they did on nights without fireworks and had up to two hours less sleep.

The New Year celebrations had lasting effects on the birds. Travelling vast distances depletes energy supplies needed to survive winter. Some geese spent more time foraging and never returned to their original sleeping sites.

The study suggests that the change in patterns could also impact agriculture. As birds compensate for reserves used during flights, they forage in agricultural lands and cause conflicts with farmers.

Thumbnail credit: Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash