Do birds attack drones?

Do birds attack drones?

Drone technology has experienced rapid development in recent years. Modern drones are inexpensive and easy to use, and devices with new functions and features are appearing on the market regularly. 

Result: sales have exploded. Official estimates in the USA show around 1.1 million drones purchased in 2019, weighing between 250 g and 25 kg depending on the model for private use according to FAA.

This new technology is also used in the context of species protection and ecological research, for example for population surveys and nest checks.

It is even possible, in certain cases, to have the collected images analyzed automatically by computer programs. Using drones makes it possible to limit disruptions and to gain efficiency or precision in data collection.

When taking aerial shots with a drone, suddenly you are surrounded by birds … Have you ever experienced it?

Birds are everywhere, so flying a drone can often bring them closer.

At that time, you will be worried that your drone might be attacked.

So, this time, I would like to introduce whether the drone is attacked by birds.

Birds are often seen in drone aerial photography.

When taking aerial shots with drones, there are birds that you often see.

The representative ones are “Tonbi” and “Crow”.

The next thing to look at is “eagles” and “hawks”.

Crows are obvious at first glance, but those birds are indistinguishable.

Let’s first look at the differences between eagle, hawk, and tonbi.

Characteristics of birds of prey

Eagle, hawk, and dragonfly belong to the birds of prey, respectively, and all belong to the order Hawk-flies.

・ Eagle

Collectively, large items with a total length of about 80 to 100 cm are called “eagles” and capture prey such as squirrels and hares.

Hawk

Collectively what is smaller than an eagle with a total length of about 50 to 60 cm is called “Hawk” and captures small prey such as wild rats.

Tonbi

It is relatively large with a total length of about 60 to 65 cm , and the Tonbi is also called Tobi.

Tonbi are the closest bird of prey, but they do not hunt themselves.

They mainly eat carcasses of animals and feed on human garbage and other foods, so “Lunch boxes were attacked” are often mentioned.

How to distinguish between eagle, hawk and tonbi

These birds are all members of the hawkish hawk family, making the differences difficult to understand.

The general points of identification are as follows.

・ The size is simply different

Eagle tail is straight and does not spread outward

・ The hawk’s tail is fan-shaped and has a pattern called Takaful

・ Tobi screams with a peculiar singing voice, “Pihyorororo,” and turns around.

As you can see, there are several ways to distinguish them, so remember them.

Drones can be attacked by birds

So is there really a possibility that the drone will be attacked by birds?

Yes, there is.

With regard to the dragonfly, it is unlikely that it will attack the drone itself because it does not hunt itself and eats dead bodies.

However, you need to be careful, as you may come close with curiosity.

As for eagle and hawk, they are hunters themselves and hunt, so there is a possibility that they will attack drones.

In addition to these eagle, hawk and tonbi, crows are also awkward.

As for crows, they act in groups, so there is a great possibility that drones will be attacked.

When to pay special attention

With some exceptions, birds breed mainly from spring to early summer.

Therefore, flying near the bird’s nest at this time will be a source of bird vigilance.

Crows and other crows can attack at once if approaching a territory in the forest, so it may be necessary to fly with special care during this time.

How to respond when a bird comes near the drone

The private and commercial use of drones has increased considerably. These devices can seriously disturb birds and other animals. It is,however, possible to limit these inconveniences by respecting a few simple rules.

If you accidentally enter a territory such as a crow, or if an eagle, hawk, or dragonfly approaches, take the following measures.

・ If you have entered a territory, immediately leave the place

・ If a bird approaches during the flight, jump up the drone on the spot (or dropdown)

· Promptly landed the drone by, wait until no other bird

Birds in the nesting period, for example, endure more disturbances without leaving the nest, but they can still be stressed. 

Using drones is a very popular pastime, and observing nature with drones is very popular. By respecting these few rules, we can considerably limit the disturbances caused to birds:

  • Give up drone flights in the vicinity of nesting sites for sensitive species (eg peregrine falcon, golden eagle), especially during the nesting period, from February to July. We recommend always keeping a minimum distance of 200 m, ideally 500 m, from the nest.
  • Do not approach within 200 m of the nature reserves.
  • Fly over sensitive areas at the highest possible altitude (> 100 m) and in a straight line.
  • Never point the device directly at a bird.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 200 m from groups of birds.
  • Prefer small and noiseless devices.

The reason why the drone soars is because the bird’s structure makes it impossible to fly directly above.

By taking such measures, you should be able to avoid attacks from birds.

Birds reaction to drones in the same territory

This new technology is also used in the context of species protection and ecological research, for example for population surveys and nest checks. 

It is even possible, in certain cases, to have the collected images analyzed automatically by computer programs. Using drones makes it possible to limit disruptions and to gain efficiency or precision in data collection.

Birds and drones operate in the same territory, i.e. in the lower airspace and close to the ground. It goes without saying that a drone can be perceived by birds as an intrusion or a danger. 

The Ornithological Station considered it necessary to examine the question and analyzed the current state of knowledge. 

A working group was created under the leadership of drone specialist Margarita Mulero-Pázmány and studied all of the existing literature on the reactions of birds to drones. 

It turns out that these reactions range from increased alertness to flight. In many cases, however, it appears that the birds have not reacted to the drones at all. 

Different factors create the reaction or not of the bird: if the drone approaches it directly, the bird flees in the majority of cases. Gasoline-powered devices trigger more reactions than electrical devices because they are noisier. 

A large drone will scare the bird away from a smaller one; birds, alone or in small groups, flee less far than large groups. 

Conclusion

Finally, we observe that large birds react more than small ones. However, it should be noted that the absence of a visible reaction from a bird does not mean that it is not stressed.

What did you think?

We’ve talked about the potential for drones and bird attacks. Depending on the type, timing and flight location of birds, the possibility of bird attack is undeniable.

Therefore, always keep an eye on your surroundings and try to fly safely. The size of the drone and the noise it generates makes the reaction of the bird more than its shape.

You might also want to read- How To Do Aerial Drone Photography With Smartphones?

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