Every day the campus community actively engages with the buildings where we learn, work, play or live. However, most are unaware of the over 100 species of birds found on campus or that they collide with the buildings’ surfaces. Birds cannot detect transparent glass surfaces, like windows or glass walkways, and fly towards vegetation, open spaces, or perches beyond the glass, hitting it head-on. Reflective glass is also dangerous for birds as it can reflect habitat space or the sky, confusing birds as they fly towards the reflection resulting in collisions. And night collisions occur when birds fly towards lit windows or surfaces, particularly during fall and spring migration. A study from the University of British Columbia estimates that college campuses can kill up to 10,000 birds yearly due to collisions. However, there are design solutions available to prevent bird building collisions.
This project aims to understand where collision “hot spots” are on our campus and develop a plan to treat them. By monitoring 20 campus buildings over six quarters, we will increase our understanding of which species are affected by collisions and identify the deadliest design features. The project will also bring awareness to the issue of bird building collisions by engaging campus and local communities through campus tours, a course taught by the project lead, an app allowing anyone to record collisions across campus, and recruiting volunteers for collision monitoring.
Gathering data about the collision victims, birds, and deadly architectural features on campus provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in the study of birds and buildings. This convenient central location eliminates extra travel time or field trip fees, allowing more students to join the project. Further, this project will engage underrepresented communities, particularly in the environmental sciences and architecture and the LGBTQIA community, first-generation students, and women in the sciences through volunteer opportunities, the project's course, and research assistant positions.