As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 23 September 2013

New grass to stop birds hitting planes

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a bird hitting a plane.

Well, not for much longer, if New Zealand scientists are successful in introducing bird-repelling grass around airports.

It's hoped the development will alleviate the multi-million dollar aviation problem of aircraft being struck by our feathered friends.

The scientists have created a new type of grass that can be laid around airports, which repels the insects that create perfect bird-feeding conditions.

Insects weaken or kill sown grasses leaving spaces for the establishment of weeds, which attract grain feeding birds.

Tests at two New Zealand airports show bird numbers fell by 70 percent when the new grass was laid and there was less chance of feeding on insects, weeding seeds or eating grass.

"The newly developed bird deterring grass ... contains a natural fungus, an endophyte, that produces chemicals that deter insects," Dr Chris Pennell of AgResearch Lincoln says.

"This reduces the attractiveness of the airport as a feed source."

The fungi also leaves an unpleasant taste that deters both grass-eating birds like geese and rodents that attract larger predators such as hawks.

"We have data that suggests animals and birds learn to avoid these areas," Dr Pennell said.

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