Planet Earth

Vulture blind spots lead to collisions with wind turbines

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongMar 14, 2012 11:16 AM

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Here are two facts that make no sense together:

Vultures have among the sharpest eyes of any animal. Vultures are among the birds most likely to crash into wind turbines and power lines.

If their eyes can spot a tiny carcass from high up in the air, why can't they see a massive metallic structure looming in front of them? Because they can't. Vultures, it turns out, have large blind spots above and below their heads. And because they hold their heads at a downwards angle when they fly, they are blind to everything directly in front of them. I covered this story for Nature News. Head over there to find out why these blind spots exist, and what we can do to prevent vultures crashing into wind farms (featuring "vulture restaurants"). Photo by M. Mirinha/STRIX

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