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:
- Continent-wide analysis of how urbanization affects bird-window collision mortality in North America
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.
EREN collaborative Bird-window Collisions Project
Dan Klem’s Birds and Windows site at Muhlenberg College
American Bird Conservancy’s Glass Collisions site
LEED pilot credit for bird collision deterrence
A sampling of pics from campus:
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.