New research shows that more birds die from collisions with windows in gardens that provide better bird habitat, reports Conservation
Sarah DeWeerdt for Conservation, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Wednesday 3 August 2016 11.30 BST
Collisions with windows are a serious source of mortality for birds: hundreds of millions die from window strikes each year in the US alone. Most attention to this problem has focused on high-rise buildings, because each individual building of this type can kill a great many birds.
But because there are so many residential dwellings, even a few collisions per home means that collectively these structures are responsible for a huge number of bird deaths. Yet researchers don’t know why one house has more collisions than another, let alone how to prevent them.
A new study suggests that yards that provide better overall bird habitat also lead to increased risk of window strikes – a result that brings home (quite literally) how our efforts to share our habitat with wildlife sometimes have unintended consequences.
In the study, researchers recruited residents of Alberta, Canada to participate in a citizen-science effort dubbed the Birds and Windows Project. Participants walked the perimeter of their home or apartment building daily and looked for evidence of bird-window collisions such as dead or injured birds, feathers, or blood on windows.
The researchers also collected information about the characteristics of each home and yard, such as whether it was in an urban or rural area, the surrounding vegetation, square footage, number of windows, and the number and location of bird feeders in the yard.
Several past studies have looked at factors that increase the risk of bird strikes, but this is the first to consider four spatial scales simultaneously: neighborhood, yard, house, and window.