University of Minnesota project aims to stop bird collisions


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A new University of Minnesota initiative tracks bird strikes with campus buildings in an effort to address lingering concerns about bird safety.

The Stop the Thud initiative asks members of the college community to report when and where they see bird strikes on campus, as well as a description of the bird via an online form. In the future, researchers plan to analyze this data to uncover patterns of bird behavior and better mitigate bird strikes.

The university’s location in the Mississippi Flyway, an important route for many migratory birds in the fall and spring, can make campus buildings particularly unsafe. Buildings with glass facades such as modern skyscrapers can confuse many birds, according to Andrew Hallberg, a graduate student at the University in the Conservation Sciences program, who helped develop the Stop the Thud initiative in collaboration with the University’s Sustainability Office.

“The birds breed in the north, and then when they fly south, (the young birds) migrate for the first time,” Hallberg said. “They just don’t know how to navigate cityscapes as well as adults do. A few years ago a report came out… that said we’ve lost three billion birds since the 1970s in the United States, which is a staggering number.

Many year-round birds, such as cardinals or crows, have adapted to the urban environment and are able to navigate better. Most birds that collide with buildings are songbirds, such as warblers or sparrows, which migrate south for the winter, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Hallberg said the initiative is envisioned in two parts, with the first part already underway. Currently, Hallberg is focused on collecting bird strike data in order to develop mitigation measures in the future.

“The first (phase) we’re working on right now is just figuring out where birds strike buildings on campus and what surfaces are the most problematic for birds to navigate,” Hallberg said. “The second phase is to figure out what we can do and look at what kind of mitigation options are available. “

According to Sustainable Development Coordinator Carley Rice, the Office of Sustainable Development is helping to support the initiative by providing online resources and promoting the report form.

“We are working on the business side of things and making sure that people on campus – students, staff and supervisory staff make sure they are aware of this initiative and if they see a bird on. the campus (they) know what to do, ”Rice said.

Although the University took steps to mitigate the number of bird strikes on campus, such as the use of sintered glass and reflective tape on buildings, bird strikes had never been tracked in this way. way before.

In addition to the Stop the Thud initiative, the Office of Sustainability also promotes Light Outs, which asks people to turn off interior lights in university buildings at night to avoid bird strikes and save energy. energy.

“I know there have been several groups before me that have researched (bird collisions), but I think recently there has been more pressure from student groups to make spaces safer for birds. ” Hallberg said.

With the fall migration season largely over, the reporting form will continue to collect data throughout the year and the Sustainability Office will step up its outreach efforts at the onset of spring migration, Hallberg said.

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