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White Plains Senior Places 5th in Intel Contest

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- White Plains High School senior Benjamin Van Doren placed fifth at the national Intel Science Talent Search and took home a $30,000 award for his research on morning flight habits of migrating birds.

Van Doren competed against 39 other finalists in Washington D.C. this week, presenting his project titled "Meteorological, Topographical and Behavioral Correlates of Diurnal Autumn Morning Flight Migration in the Northeastern United States” to college presidents, professors and major researchers.

The senior teamed up with volunteers to help track more than 45,000 birds on 84 mornings between August and November 2010. Van Doren determined that birds often reverse their flight direction in the morning to compensate for wind drift that occurred over night.

Intel noted that his project "investigated a poorly understood behavior of nocturnal migratory birds" and "has potential implications for the growing wind power industry."

Van Doren, who plans to attend Cornell University in fall, said he hoped expanding on his research could help prevent bird collisions with wind turbines and other structures.

"This may be used when evaluating the risk for a collision with man-made structures, such as wind turbines, communication towers and skyscrapers, but more importantly, knowing the migratory patterns is of the upmost importance given recent population declines across many species, especially considering that the migratory periods of the bird's life pose the most danger," Van Doren said during a board of education meeting.

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