Rising Deaths by Collision

written by: Sarah Saxon

Bird-Collisions

photo: (http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/building-owners-in-new-lawsuit-over-bird-collision-deaths/bird-collisions/)

In an article by Ben Whitford on May 1, 2013, titled “Birds Strike: Deaths Caused by Collisions With Buildings Severely Dent Populations”, many birds are dying as a result from flying into city buildings in Toronto, and other places in the world.

Employees on cigarette or lunch breaks watch as these birds fall from the sky and onto their laps or picnic tables.  In response to these deaths, Michael Mesure, a bird enthusiast, was called in to help collect these dead and injured birds.  On one day in a six-hour time frame, more than 500 birds were found injured and lifeless.  This is a seriously high number that shows just how common the problem is.

Mesure and his team of volunteers placed the dead birds in plastic bags while at the same time placing injured birds in paper sacks for treatment, later to be released.  Numerous birds continue to collide into the mirror-like windowpanes at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.  As they crash into the windows, about 60% of the birds die on impact, while others experience wounds that often prove fatal.  In Toronto alone, bird deaths that are caused by collisions reach about 1 million a year.  In research done by the Smithsonian Institute, it is estimated that there are between 400 million and 1 billion deaths a year from birds flying into these deceiving windows.  This raises huge concern in urban areas.

The problem with these skylines and skyscrapers are the reflective windowpanes, making it difficult for a bird to distinguish blue sky from the actual windows.  These collisions are a problem for any city with buildings like these.  What makes it difficult to solve this problem is that society likes to see these attractive, contemporary buildings that stand out among others.  We need to put function and safety before visual preference.  What can be done to prevent these deaths?

Instead of having reflective, mirrored windows, we need to create ways where reflection is minimal  This could mean applying a one-way transparent film that appears opaque from the outside or installing a screen or shade cloth over the window, keeping the window from reflecting as much as possible.

The devastating number of bird deaths by collision will continue to rise if we do not start to take action.  Reflective skylines in cities throughout the world need to be reevaluated to provide a safer environment for birds.  By brainstorming and applying achievable solutions, it is possible to slowly decrease the rising number of deaths.

Works Cited 

Mayntz, Melissa. “Prevent Bird Window Collisions.” About.com. About.com, n.d. Web. 03 May 2013.

Whitford, Ben. “Birds Strike: Deaths Caused by Collisions with Buildings Severely Dent Populations.” ENN Environmental News Network. Environmental News Network, 1 May 2013. Web. 03 May 2013.

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