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Human disturbance is caused by the mere presence of humans in the environment. As both predation risk and human disturbance redirect time and energy from other fitness-enhancing activities such as reproduction and feeding, perceived predation risk appears to be useful in the understanding of the impact of human disturbance. It is essential to understand how birds react to different levels of human disturbance because riskier human behaviour can have devastating effects on habitat use, community composition, reproduction and fitness. Birds tend to overestimate the risk associated with humans rather than underestimate it and risk injury and therefore are more likely to partially habituate to harmless and repetitive human disturbance rather than lose all ‘fear’ towards humans. As a bird's response dynamically varies with its current assessment of risk and the response is most likely to be context and species-specific, it is difficult to predict with confidence, how birds will react to increased incidences of human disturbance.

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References

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