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SOUND SOLUTION, AVIAN DEATHS

Researchers in the US sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have developed a device which emits a pattern of radio-frequency signals to help prevent birds from flying into structures that can injure or kill them. The researchers are preparing to test it more fully in the field.

A solution to the vexed question of birds flying into wind turbines may be in sight. In the US, researchers sponsored by the Electricity Producers Research Institute (EPRI) have developed a technology to help prevent birds from flying into structures that can injure or kill them.

The technology was conceived for use at wind farms. The device, which emits a pattern of radio-frequency signals imperceptible to human beings, has been tested successfully in the laboratory. Now the researchers are preparing to test it more fully in the field than they have done to date.

According to EPRI's Earl Davis, who is managing the ongoing research at the University of Pittsburgh, it has the potential to be useful in a variety of applications -- for diverting birds away from airplane engines, tall buildings, and sites containing hazardous chemicals, for example. "EPRI's technology emits a pattern of radio signals in a frequency already approved by the Federal Communications Commission for broadcasting. Since these signals cannot be detected by human ears, they can be used in areas where people are present," he says.

The aim of EPRI's research is to successfully startle birds away from a given danger zone. In laboratory tests at the University of Pittsburgh, researchers have determined that pigeons perceive and recognise the radio signals. The next step is to test the device under controlled conditions on other bird species in the field. Commercialisation would follow. In the meantime, EPRI has applied for a patent on the technology. "This technology has the potential for great commercial value," concludes Davis.

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