birding-aus Bird reaction to Total solar eclipse over Europe

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Bird reaction to Total solar eclipse over Europe
From: "Philip A Veerman" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 00:34:22 +1000
As many of you will have observed on the TV news, there was a Total Solar
Eclipse (TSE) over parts of Europe last week. The news showed a whole lot of
people doing really weird things. However the really big question is what
did the birds do? Did anyone note what the high flying raptors did as the
light went out (actually I know that is a dumb question because you can't
see them when it is dark, but that was the brainwave that got me deeply
involved back in May 1976 when I was a 2nd year LaTrobe Uni biology
student), what about vocalisation of birds, was there cessation during the
eclipse and a false dawn chorus after, what about roosting and panicking
behaviour? Did these happen differently in far away places? Different parts
of the earth are under the eclipse just a few minutes apart, but the local
time differs by several hours, with impact on how birds may perceive the
short night and false dawn.
Does anyone out there know what studies were planned and undertaken to
investigate this? Or even who in Europe with a bird interest to address such
an enquiry to. Is there a chat line like this in Europe or Britain?
Many of you will recall the TSE over Victoria on 23-10-1976 about which I
wrote a 30 page article (it took till June 1982 to be published in ABW),
addressing some of these things. That was based on the observations of about
150 BOCA members and school kids throughout Victoria in the program
"Operation Blackout" organised through Monash University. I would like to
have my findings compared to other similar studies around the world. It
contributes a lot to insights into bird photoperiodic behaviour. Information
about TSE such as on the WWW is very dominated by twitcher's trips to see
them and the astronomical aspects of them (wow, what a megatick corona,
etc.) but I haven't found an index of TSE in ornithological literature,
though I have promulgated my work wherever I can, it always seems to be
reactionary. Any ideas or suggestions appreciated.

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