February 22, 2017

Bird-Window Collisions Project


Evaluating the drivers of bird-window collisions in North America

Stephen B. Hager, Department of Biology, Augustana College, stevehager@augustana.edu, 309.794.3439
Bradley J. Consentino, Department of Biology, Hobard and William Smith Colleges, cosentino@hws.edu

Initiated: 2013

Birds that reside in urban settings face numerous human-related threats to survival, including mortality from bird-window collisions (BWCs). Recent work has demonstrated that the primary drivers of BWCs are the amount of windows in a building and proportion of development, which create spatial variation in BWCs within urban landscapes. However, we currently have a biased understanding of the spatial aspects of BWCs since previous research has been confined to large commercial and high-rise buildings located in areas important for bird migration, such as along major migratory pathways.

We are testing the hypothesis that the pattern and magnitude of BWCs among urban areas reflect landscape structure and functional connectivity. For example, sites in large cities settled along migratory pathways should display high variation in BWCs, whereas low variation in BWCs might be expected at towns consisting of only relatively small buildings (i.e., low window area) outside of major migratory routes.

Conservation and Legal Implications:
From conservation and legal perspectives, recent litigation against persons accused of being responsible for BWCs has prompted the need for effective policy that assists interested parties, e.g., building owners and architects, about how to best deal with the issue of collision mortality. Thus, understanding the determinants of collision risk across spatial scales is crucial for predicting local and regional mortality, which would (1) better inform existing policy and (2) focus future building design and conservation efforts aimed at reducing collision-related impacts.

Summary Methods:
Collaborators evaluate BWCs at their home institutions from a minimum of six buildings that vary in size (small to large) and that are surrounded by differing levels of vegetation. Surveys for bird carcasses must be completed in the fall migratory season, which coincides with peak mortality.

Click HERE for a more detailed project description.

Research Timeline:
Fall 2013:
      Pilot season completed to test current protocols
Spring and Summer 2014:
      Invite and secure additional collaborators from throughout North America
25-28 June 2014:
      Bird-window Collisions collaborators participate in workshops/planning meetings at the EREN meeting, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
Fall 2014:
      First official field season using updated and improved methods

Click HERE to access research protocols related to selecting study buildings, conducting carcass surveys, and measuring variables hypothesized to affect BWCs.

Educational Materials:
Run this project through one of your college classes (e.g., Ecology, Conservation Biology, Ornithology, etc.) and as part of internships/independent research experiences.

Click HERE for instructor materials, such as a case study on BWCs, Journal Club workshop, and using GIS. Indeed, your students can take an active role in this project that will provide them with hands-on experience working with the scientific process.

Click HERE to view an interactive web map that displays collaborator locations and institutions.

Contact Information:
Direct any questions about this project to Steve Hager, stevehager@augustana.edu and 309.794.3439 (office).