Lafayette Windows-Avian Collisions (LafWAC) Project

Plate-glass windows are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of songbirds every year. As this is a cross-disciplinary challenge involving avian behavior, building design, and campus sustainability, Biology professor Mike Butler and Engineering professor David Brandes have teamed up with a number of students to better understand the extent of this problem on our campus and to develop some effective ways to reduce fatalities here. Our dataset demonstrates that window strikes are clustered in spring and fall at some of the newer campus buildings that have extensive reflective glass (e.g. Hugel, Skillman, Kirby sports center). A variety of species are affected as illustrated in the photos later on this page — surprisingly, hummingbirds are the most frequently killed species.

We have joined our effort with a network of colleges and universities across North America doing similar studies as part of an Ecological Research as Education Network project. Our collaborative project’s first publication in Biological Conservation is linked below:

Fortunately, this is a problem with some relatively inexpensive solutions. In collaboration with our team and alumnus Jeff Acopian, Plant Operations installed Acopian Birdsavers on several campus buildings as a pilot program to test their effectiveness in reducing collisions. You may have noticed these on Hugel and Williams Visual Arts. So far the results are very promising, collisions have been reduced to near zero at Hugel. In our view this effort needs to be expanded to more high-risk windows on campus.

The 100th bird carcass in our campus window-killed collection.

The 100th bird carcass in our campus window-killed collection.

Links:

EREN collaborative Bird-window Collisions Project
Dan Klem’s Birds and Windows site at Muhlenberg College
American Bird Conservancy’s Glass Collisions site
Acopian Birdsavers
LEED pilot credit for bird collision deterrence

A sampling of pics from campus:

Hugel sidewalk - Sept 13

Hugel sidewalk – early Sept 13

Video clip, Sept 12, 2013 next to Hugel – if the pictures don’t disturb you, this might…
Note, if your iPhone or whatever wont let you view this, go to YouTube.

Robin at the entrance to Acopian Engineering Center

Robin at the entrance to Acopian Engineering Center – Apr 13

Robin at entrance to Hugel - Nov 12

Robin at entrance to Hugel – Nov 12

Hummingbird outside Skillman

And another

And another at Hugel

mourning dove - Hugel

mourning dove – Hugel

Tanager at Hugel

Tanager at Hugel

Catbird

Catbird

A warbler at Skillman

a warbler at Hugel

a warbler at Hugel

another warbler at Skillman

another warbler at Skillman

a stunned warbler that was lucky to have been spotted by Prof Butler - this one survived

a stunned warbler that was lucky to have been spotted by Prof Butler – this one survived

Blackburninan warbler at Hugel - May 2016

Blackburninan warbler at Hugel – May 2016

Canada Warbler at Hugel, Aug 2016

Canada Warbler at Hugel, Aug 2016

Nuthatch at Skillman

Cedar waxwing at Hugel

Kingfisher at the arts complex over Bushkill Creek

Sparrow (not the ordinary variety) at Hugel

Kinglet at Skillman

Junco (snowbird) outside AEC

Junco (snowbird) outside AEC