Hundreds of millions of birds die each year from collisions with windows. This is a source of mortality for wild birds that simply did not exist as a significant component of our landscapes much before 1850, and it probably didn’t really take off until expansive areas of plate glass (mirrored or otherwise) became ubiquitous since about 1950. Compounding the damage, the victims of window collisions very often include fit, healthy individuals in the prime of life. These are not just baby birds, recently out of the nest and foolishly falling prey to a neighborhood cat. These are usually vibrant individuals often in peak condition for migration. Despite the difficulty in establishing window collisions as a truly additive source of mortality (i.e., one that limits populations), I treat it as such, and operate under the premise that reducing mortality from window collisions is a desirable objective of wildlife conservation.
Why the blog? We don’t talk about this issue nearly enough. Migrants face enough hazards without smacking into our windows while in the midst of a 1000-mile passage. Recent work by the American Bird Conservancy and by independent researchers is beginning to turn that tide but there is still much to learn about the features of some buildings that make them more deadly than others or certain species of birds that are more susceptible to collisions. We need to increase the attention paid to the issue and, in particular, communicate important findings with architects, designers, and builders.
Black-throated Blue Warbler by Tim O’Connell
Although no one solution solves the problem, we cannot approach solutions without engaging in the conversation. This blog is intended to do that: highlight the problem with daily updates of window collisions at a rather run-of-the-mill, but dangerous, building. It is specifically a chronicling of birds I have found in repeated searches at the Noble Research Center on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA. I began regular searches, and started the blog, in August 2009. Simply scroll backwards for older posts all the way to August 2009.
Thanks for stopping in and spreading the word about what is probably the most important conservation issue facing North American birds that not enough people are talking about.
PS: For more information on Tim O’Connell’s professional work, check out his faculty page at the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University. For links to birding and conservation newsletters, personal rants, humor, birding reports, and cool new science findings, check out my original wordpress blog, The Waterthrush Blog.