Some clever barn swallows from Tonsberg, Norway have discovered how to open a condominium's garage door, allowing them to outfox predators who don't yet know how motion-detectors work.
According to long-term condo residents, the swallows used to follow them into the parking garage when the door opened and, presumably, left when cars exited the garage.
Recently, however, the birds' behavior has changed: a certain type of flight path fools the garage's motion-activated sensors into “thinking” a car has arrived. Other swallows appear to have learned the trick and witnesses have observed the birds utilizing the technique over 100 times.
In the wild, barn swallows try to build their nests in places predators find difficult to access – they're not called “barn” swallows for nothing! Now this group of city swallows has outdone their country cousins by co-opting human technology.
Even veteran ornithologists have been taken aback by these innovative avians. “I have not seen this before,” stated Ragnar Syvertsen to NRK. “There is no doubt that the birds have learned this on their own over a period of time,” adds Syvertsen, who sits on the board of the Norwegian Ornithological Society in Vestfold.
Not everyone is impressed by the swallows mastery of motion-activated tech, however. Building records show a recent increase in the number of times the garage door has opened and closed of late, and the additional noise and power usage has both residents and management concerned.
Ulf Bottolfs Andersen (above, right), chairman of the Olsrød Park condominium owner's association, is looking into having the sensor's settings adjusted so the birds can't trip them so easily. At the same time, he freely admits the swallows mean no harm and are only seeking to survive. “The neighbors will look at it as a major contribution to a bird species that has fewer and fewer places to nest,” explains Andersen. “They (the residents) do a great job for nature by letting them hold on, although it's quite annoying at times.” One might say they're... swallowing their irritation for a good cause.