I noticed a dove land fly down and land near her. She didn't see it at first. Then she did, and wandered closer to investigate. Just when I was starting to worry that she might leap on it - she's pretty fast - it flapped up into the tree with a clatter of wings. It made me think about an article I read today. Apparently some scientists in NSW have studied the effect of dog-walking on the movements of birds in the bush around Sydney. Partly it said:
The researchers looked at 90 woodland trails a few kilometres north of Sydney, half regularly used by dog-walkers and half where the animals were prohibited.
Dogs were walked, on leads, along the 250m-long (820ft) trails, followed 20 seconds later by an observer who counted the birds seen and heard. The experiment was repeated for walkers without dogs and for a control scenario where there were neither walkers nor dogs.
Dr Banks said: "The key finding is that dog-walking certainly does have an impact on birds - and we were quite surprised by the magnitude of the impact."
The team found that dog-walking was causing bird numbers to drop by an average of 41% at each site and the numbers of species counted fell by 35%.
The results were similar in sites often frequented by dog-walkers and those where the practice was prohibited, suggesting that birds did not get used to the dogs' presence, despite frequent encounters.
It's a vexed question, in my opinion. I'd like to see the study replicated before I'd be convinced that birds are more disturbed by dogs on lead than by groups of humans walking around. Anyway, I reckon the birds' instincts might not lead them to the conclusion that humans are the more dangerous, with their guns and rubbish and destruction of habitats. I don't know of too many dogs that have levelled forests or contaminated creeks and rivers.