Artificial lighting can harm wild creatures by disorientating them, but for some — such as the common redshank, a migratory shorebird — it can help.

Ross Dwyer at the University of Exeter in Penryn, UK, and his colleagues studied the bird (Tringa totanus; pictured) in an estuary near industrial sites in eastern Scotland. The researchers tagged the redshanks with posture-sensitive radio transmitters, making it possible to measure how much time the birds spent with their heads down — sweeping through mud or sand to search for food — and up, stalking prey visually. The authors found that redshanks near artificial light spent more time visually stalking — which is more efficient than searching by touch — than those in darker areas, suggesting that the light improves the animal's foraging opportunities.

J. Anim. Ecol. (2012)