It was learned by GPS tracking of migrating geese. They were analyzed in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands during the New Year period. Thus it was determined that fireworks affect bird migration.
These are movement data from 347 geese for 8 consecutive years. On New Year’s Eve, the birds suddenly abandon their roosting sites. They fly to new areas farther away from human settlements. The disturbed birds rested two hours less and flew farther. Sometimes up to 500 kilometers without stopping.
The unusual behaviors did not end with the celebrations. Every day studied after the New Year, the geese spent more time foraging. They never returned to their original roosting sites.
Arctic migratory species were studied. They spend their winters in northern Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. They have significant changes in winter behavior in response to fireworks. Normally, the geese would return to the same body of water for several nights. But on New Year’s Eve, when the fireworks were lit, the geese left their sleeping sites more frequently. They flew much farther and higher than on other nights.
“It’s shocking,” Andrea Kölzsch, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior, says in a statement. “Some flew hundreds of kilometers in a single night. Distances they would normally only fly during migration.”
“We found that birds are abandoning their roosting sites and choosing places farther away from people. They are trying to escape the fireworks,” says Kölzsch.
It’s not just the immediate response to the fireworks. The birds also ate more and moved less in the 12 days after New Year’s Eve. “They compensate for the extra energy they expended during the night of the fireworks,” says Bart Nolet. He is a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. This is the first study to prove that fireworks affect bird migration. The human footprint is always present, modifying the courses of nature.