Advances in Window Security Come to the Cornell Lab and Cornell Campus

Yearly, as much as one billion birds die from window strikes within the U.S, species of all sizes introduced down by the invisible tragedy of glass. A rising physique of analysis surrounding the severity of window collisions—and methods to keep away from them—has resulted in additional organizations shifting towards bird-friendly buildings, together with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Constructed in 2002, the Lab’s house in Sapsucker Woods was designed to harmonize with the panorama and permit guests to immerse themselves on the planet of birds. Its two-story construction, constructed with pure supplies like cedar and stone, is inconspicuously set beneath the treeline of the encircling 220-acre sanctuary. Overlooking the pond and feeder backyard is a tall, glass-fronted observatory, which options an 84-foot-wide, two-story expanse of home windows. 

The Lab’s architects realized these massive swaths of glass posed a risk to birds, however to not the extent identified at present: on the time of building, there was restricted analysis in regards to the scale of window strikes, and correct steering for stopping collisions had but to emerge. 

“In case you have a look at the Lab of Ornithology from the skin, you’ll be able to see that the glass is about again from steel pillars and framing, relatively than being flush,” mentioned Miyoko Chu, the Lab’s senior director of science communications. “From an architectural perspective, it was thought that birds would see the steel and alter course earlier than hanging the glass. However analysis at present reveals that birds don’t use the identical visible cues as people. They don’t acknowledge that there’s a exhausting floor between the steel, so that they attempt to fly by way of—maybe as if flying between the trunks and branches of timber.” 

Window security is #1 on our record of Seven Easy Actions to Assist Birds. Right here’s a primer on the issue and easy methods to assist.

The transparency and reflectivity of glass usually trigger birds to understand home windows as extensions of their habitat. Completely clear constructions resembling glass bridges or breezeways permit birds to see by way of to timber and the sky, and the phantasm of open air leads to birds hurtling into the glass with out realizing it’s there. Reflective home windows act equally; birds see a mirage of timber and sky that they fly towards. 

Collision mitigation methods are centered round breaking apart these photographs of foliage. Quite a few research have proven that birds are almost certainly to fly into home windows until the glass is retrofitted with a 2-inch by 2-inch sample to interrupt up reflections (utilizing implements resembling stickers/decals and tape, amongst many different choices) or if home windows are manufactured to include alerts that may cease collisions. These findings clarify why the Lab’s unique window design has been largely ineffective in stopping strikes.

Find out how to Make Home windows Safer

“To make the Lab’s home windows safer, we thought of a number of choices, evaluating components resembling aesthetics, price, sturdiness, and ease of set up and upkeep,” Chu mentioned. “Finally, we selected Acopian BirdSavers, cords that dangle in entrance of the home windows, largely due to their increased effectiveness ranking from the American Fowl Conservancy in contrast with movie utilized to the skin in patterns resembling dots or stripes.”

A separate possibility is to hold hen netting in entrance of a window. This strategy is much more efficient and has all the time coated the window that overlooks the Lab’s busy feeder backyard—a high-risk space in circumstances when startled birds could hurtle away from a feeder and in the direction of a window.

The Lab is now working to help bird-friendly constructing initiatives elsewhere on Cornell College’s campus. Collaboration with companions on campus and the American Fowl Conservancy’s Home windows Collision program has already proven outcomes—in late August, the college revealed new bird-friendly design and building requirements. These will information new building initiatives on safer constructions, landscaping, and window designs. Further plans are underway to establish and handle problematic constructions on campus by way of additional monitoring and outreach. 

Whereas the enormity of the collision challenge is daunting, in a unique mild it’s an amazing alternative to make modifications to our buildings and assist preserve these one billion birds alive and flying. To take action would require initiatives throughout universities and cities—in addition to efforts on the particular person stage to make properties extra bird-friendly.

Ellie VanHouten‘s work on this story as a pupil editorial assistant was made potential by a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Experiential Studying Grant.

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