A pair of French-Canadian scientists are claiming that birds understand speed limits. As ludicrous as it sounds, it begins to make sense once you dive a bit deeper into it. See, the two professors, one from the University of Quebec at Rimouski and one from McGill University in Montreal, began studying birds in France back in 2006.

The two noticed that based on the speed limit of the road they were traveling on, the birds took off at differing distances. For example, on a 50-kilometer-per-hour road, birds took off later than on a 110-kph road. This happened independently of a vehicle's actual speed. There was also a differentiation based on whether it was spring or fall. The birds took off later in the spring, but earlier in the fall.

New Scientist reports that the researchers' conclusions are based on cars as a sort of predator. Birds know where the predators are at, and as higher speeds generally make for a more danger, our winged friends learn what places are more dangerous. As for the seasonal change, the scientists argued that birds in the spring are both more active, while younger birds are just starting to leave the nest and are still learning about the dangers of cars. In the fall, this isn't the case.

Head over to New Scientist for a full look. It's an interesting read on how our cars change the world around us in not so visible ways.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Aaron Wyatt
      • 1 Year Ago
      I noticed years back driving across very rural eastern Oregon I hit quite a few birds that would fly out in front of the car. It was as if they were not accustomed to vehicle traffic and didn't calculate the speed. Yes I did feel bad...
      TLRZero
      • 1 Year Ago
      I definitely wouldn't think for a moment as cars as predators, but of course birds do. I imagine that deer may have a similar philosophy, then again the driver behind the wheel might be a predator! Hate hitting any living breathing mammal with my car, well, unless it was a fellow homo sapien that I didn't like....kidding!
        Ryan C. Lawson
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TLRZero
        I agree. But you say mammal. What about reptiles? Snakes, turtles, lizards, ect.
      Peter DePriest
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why cant deer have this kind of intelligence? If only they could learn not to jump out into the road right as a car is passing
      jmi2
      • 1 Year Ago
      besides thinking that this might be considered one of the most useless pieces of research ever done, it would seem to me that birds are doing nothing more than trying to match the speed of objects within their sight to get out of the way......
        WheelMcCoy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jmi2
        From the New Scientist article: " They did this even when faced with a car travelling faster on the slow road or slower on the fast road."
          Porsche4life
          • 1 Year Ago
          @WheelMcCoy
          I would rather not research anything then waste my time and money and do a research on this!
        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jmi2
        So what "useful" scietific investigations have you been a part of recently. Furthermore, your reading comprehension must suck because you clearly missed the point in the article that stated "independent of the vehicles speed. " Thanks for contributing.
          Eduardo Maal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Matt
          It seems more like evidence that birds can recognize patterns (vehicles on average travel at the speed limit, or close to it), than evidence that a bird is recognizing a sign on a road. Waste of money, yeah.
        Porsche4life
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jmi2
        Thank you
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, birds are slowly becoming smarter now. Most people over here don't even follow the posted limit. The limit is posted for a reason, people. It's the maximum safe speed of a road. Any speed over a posted limit is DANGEROUS, and no matter what, you're NOT supposed to exceed the limit. In fact, most of the time, you're supposed to go BELOW the limit.
      Myself
      • 1 Year Ago
      There are no 110 kph roads in France. 110 km/h roads? That is a different matter. K stands for Kilo (thousand), not for kilometer. Autoblog should know better.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        56Jalopy
        • 1 Year Ago
        Quit your repugnant spiel, they should charge you $10,000.00 every time you post.
      56Jalopy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I know the buzzards around here just keep on eating road kill until they almost disappear from sight and then you see them flying off to the side. I did hit a hawk that miscalculated and a pelican got my right mirror, and no I was not speeding. Squirrels are the worst, I had one go under my motorcycle once, between the front and back tire.
      Joe
      • 1 Year Ago
      If I come up on a bird or other critter that stubbornly refuses to move.. I give them a toot of the horn to scare them off. I do not like to kill creatures unnecessarily. The one time I ever hit a critter.. It was unfortunately a Skunk, he decided to try to dash across the road at the very last second and there was nothing i could do about it.. Yes the car stunk to high hell for the next half hour.
      OrvilM
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow
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