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Stopping Bird Glass Collisions

July 3, 2015

Stopping Bird Glass Collisions

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Chris Sheppard Chris Sheppard

Not long ago, I addressed the second grade ornithologists at a school in Ardsley, New York. They were studying birds intensively, biology, ecology, life histories, even some bird jokes, and I was there to tell them about bird collisions with glass and how to stop them. When I asked how many had seen or heard a bird hit a window, almost all raised their hands.

While most people have experienced a bird hitting a window, they tend to think it is unusual. They don’t understand it is so common that hundreds of millions of birds die from glass collisions each year, in the U.S. alone half on private homes. My job is to reduce that number.

One way to do this is to identify the best patterns to go on windows and determine if they are effective at stopping bird collisions. That’s what the tunnel does. We test wild birds (using a net, so they don’t get hurt,) giving them a choice of flying out through plain glass (which they can’t see – and neither can you) or what we’re testing. The more that go to the plain glass (the control,) the more effective the pattern. Birds (here, a catbird) fly free after the brief test.

The results now underlie regulations in some cities and are becoming part of sustainable design programs to stop bird collisions.

Read some tips on how to to alert birds to windows.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For our current assignment, we’re celebrating wildlife in your everyday life. Send us your best shots.

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