U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



PeerJ (November 21, 2023) 11: e16379

doi: 10.7717/peerj.16379

Academic editor: Laura Brannelly

The code and data is also available at GitHub and Open Science Framework: https://github.com/ryanlunn/CanadaGooseLightAvoidance.git

Other supplemental materials are available at https://peerj.com/articles/16379/#supplemental-information

See also Lunn, Ryan, and Esteban Fernandez-Juricic. 2023. ‘‘Light Wavelength and PulsingFrequency Affect Avoidance Responses of Canada Geese.’’ OSF. September 20. osf.io/g9am5


United States government work

and License: CC BY 4.0


Collisions between birds and aircraft cause bird mortality, economic damage, and aviation safety hazards. One proposed solution to increasing the distance at which birds detect and move away from an approaching aircraft, ultimately mitigating the probability of collision, is through onboard lighting systems. Lights in vehicles have been shown to lead to earlier reactions in some bird species but they could also generate attraction, potentially increasing the probability of collision. Using information on the visual system of the Canada goose (Branta canadensis), we developed light stimuli of high chromatic contrast to their eyes. We then conducted a controlled behavioral experiment (that is, single-choice test) to assess the avoidance or attraction responses of Canada geese to LED lights of different wavelengths (blue, 483 nm; red, 631 nm) and pulsing frequencies (steady, pulsing at 2 Hz). Overall, Canada geese tended to avoid the blue light and move towards the red light; however, these responses depended heavily on light exposure order. At the beginning of the experiment, geese tended to avoid the red light. After further exposure the birds developed an attraction to the red light, consistent with the mere exposure effect. The response to the blue light generally followed a U-shape relationship (avoidance, attraction, avoidance) with increasing number of exposures, again consistent with the mere exposure effect, but followed by the satiation effect. Lights pulsing at 2 Hz enhanced avoidance responses under high ambient light conditions; whereas steady lights enhanced avoidance responses under dim ambient light conditions. Our results have implications for the design of lighting systems aimed at mitigating collisions between birds and human objects. LED lights in the blue portion of the spectrum are good candidates for deterrents and lights in the red portion of the spectrum may be counterproductive given the attraction effects with increasing exposure. Additionally, consideration should be given to systems that automatically modify pulsing of the light depending on ambient light intensity to enhance avoidance.

Supplementary_Text_1.pdf (194 kB)
Supplementary text