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Helicopter effects upon nesting White-bellied Sea-eagles and upon smaller birds at an isolated protected location (Eshelby Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia)


The results are reported of a three-day study of helicopter effects upon small birds and breeding White-bellied Sea-eagles on a remote, rarely-visited Queensland island. Regular close passes by the helicopter above a sea-eagle nest, compounded by the presence of people and rain, probably caused breeding failure. Habituation to such activity is most unlikely to occur because it represents an intense short-term exposure to piercing sound and wind. In all such cases the birds could be expected to leave the nest and remain away during operation of the helicopter. If helicopters must be used near eagle nests, authorities must choose more appropriate times in the breeding cycles of the birds. No lasting impacts on small non-breeding birds were detected

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