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 transferring towards bird-friendly buildings, together with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Constructed in 2002, the Lab’s residence in Sapsucker Woods was designed to harmonize with the panorama and permit guests to immerse themselves on the earth of birds. Its two-story construction, constructed with pure supplies like cedar and stone, is inconspicuously set beneath the treeline of the encompassing 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 giant swaths of glass posed a risk to birds, however to not the extent recognized in the present day: on the time of development, there was restricted analysis concerning the scale of window strikes, and correct steering for stopping collisions had but to emerge. 

“If you happen to have a look at the Lab of Ornithology from the skin, you possibly can see that the glass is ready 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 placing the glass. However analysis in the present day reveals that birds don’t use the identical visible cues as people. They don’t acknowledge that there’s a onerous floor between the steel, so that they attempt to fly via—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 how one can assist.

The transparency and reflectivity of glass usually trigger birds to understand home windows as extensions of their habitat. Fully clear constructions reminiscent of glass bridges or breezeways enable birds to see via to timber and the sky, and the phantasm of open air ends in 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 pictures of foliage. Quite a few research have proven that birds are probably to fly into home windows until the glass is retrofitted with a 2-inch by 2-inch sample to interrupt up reflections (utilizing implements reminiscent of 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 authentic window design has been largely ineffective in stopping strikes.

Make Home windows Safer

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

A separate choice is to hold hen netting in entrance of a window. This strategy is much more efficient and has at all times lined the window that overlooks the Lab’s busy feeder backyard—a high-risk space in instances when startled birds might 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 Hen Conservancy’s Home windows Collision program has already proven outcomes—in late August, the college revealed new bird-friendly design and development requirements. These will information new development tasks on safer constructions, landscaping, and window designs. Extra plans are underway to determine and deal with problematic constructions on campus via additional monitoring and outreach. 

Whereas the enormity of the collision difficulty is daunting, in a unique mild it’s an incredible alternative to make adjustments to our buildings and assist hold 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 degree to make properties extra bird-friendly.

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


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