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A slew of new mobile phone apps allow birdwatchers to identify bird calls, but experts in the UK warn that when used improperly, these apps can have a detrimental impact on the animals. Some birds lured by calls abandon important tasks, including feeding their young, the BBC reports. This has prompted at least one protected area in the UK to post signs warning against improper use.

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Visitors to Brownsea Island in the UK are using bird song apps to lure certain birds out at night – for photo opportunities, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. A spokesperson from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) told the BBC that they are inadvertently pulling birds away from the tasks at hand, such as feeding their offspring.

“Repeatedly playing a recording of birdsong or calls to encourage a bird to respond in order to see it or photograph it can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young, Tony Whitehead, public affairs officer for the RSPB told the paper.

Dr. Hilary Wilson, a representative from the developer iSpiny behind the Chirp! app said that her company designed birdsong apps in good faith as a learning tool for those wanting to identify bird calls. She never imagined they would be abused.

“We urge great caution – birdsong is simply a pleasant sound to human ears, but to birds it is a powerful means of communication,” she told the paper.

She urged users to respect both the birds and other people by keeping the volume low.

Via BBC News