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There’s an interesting podcast available on Scientific American by Jason Goldman about which kind of birds get killed by “bird strikes”~flying into buildings.

Sadly it is estimated that a billion birds a year die from flying into buildings on this continent. It is not known whether the birds perceive light behind windows as safe corridors, or whether they mistake reflections for foliage.

A graduate student looked at a previously researched data set of birds colliding into structures at forty locations in Canada, Mexico and the United States.  Some of the findings just make sense~bigger buildings with more glass surfaces kill more birds.

But what was interesting is which kind of birds were dying this way~as Jared Elmore, the head researcher stated “We found that life history predicted collisions. Migrants, insectivores and woodland-inhabiting species collided more than their counterparts.”

Mr. Elmore confirms that lights near or at buildings disorent migratory species at night, and that insect-eating birds might be attracted to the buildings because “insect prey is also attracted to lights”.

Woodland birds probably mistake the reflections of trees and bushes in windows for the real thing.

This research provides information on how to adapt buildings and lighting systems to avoid bird strikes. By understanding when birds migrate and their habits, lighting can be modified during those time periods.

Of course the next item would be the ability to predict when birds migrate, and Mr. Elmore’s next research will focus on adapting radar to assist bird migration prediction.

“I think that would maybe go a long way in terms of providing information to people, to the public, to building managers, on when they can get the most bang for their buck in terms of lights-out policies.”

This YouTube video below by National Geographic reviews work done in New York City showing that placing vertical lines on glass 4 inches  (10 cm) apart reduces bird strikes on glass buildings.

Image: Curbed.com

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