In North America, approximately one billion birds die annually due to collisions with windows, and Mt. A students want to change that. As the awareness around bird-safe buildings grows, many are wondering how they can make infrastructure safe for wildlife. This past spring, Mackenzie Warman, a fourth-year biology student, decided to make the campus more bird-friendly.
In April, Warman observed several bird fatalities due to them crashing into glass. Like many other students, she was concerned about the deceased birds found on campus. Spring and fall are migration seasons for many species; bird-window collisions tend to spike during these seasons. Furthermore, birds play a critical role in maintaining our ecosystems in several ways. Birds help regulate populations of rodents and insects, as well as seed dispersal. In particular, she noticed an injured American Woodcock, a shorebird native to eastern North America, on campus. They attempted to bring the bird to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, but the bird unfortunately died due to the collision.
Witnessing these injured birds inspired Warman to strive to prevent bird deaths at Mt. A. Dr. Jennifer Tomes, Dean of Science and Graduate Studies, heard Warman’s concerns about bird safety on campus through social media. From there, Dr. Tomes supported Warman in creating a solution with Facilities Management.
After much research and consideration of cost and installation, Warman concluded that the best option was collision tape. Birds usually cannot see a window in front of them, so they attempt to fly through it. Collison tape prevents birds from hitting the glass by creating a pattern of dots on the window indicating to birds there is a barrier, so they do not attempt to fly through it.
This past September, collision tape was placed by Facilities Management on the windows of Barclay to prevent birds from hitting the windows. Additionally, as a part of her initiative, Warman is collecting data on dead birds found on campus. Information acquired from this data will help Warman keep a record of injuries and improve other aspects of bird safety on campus.
This project speaks to Mt. A’s collaborative approach to learning, encouraging students to initiate change in their communities. Sackville community members can become involved with the project in numerous ways, for example, Warman plans to have a booth at the Sackville Farmer’s Market to educate people on this major issue. Mt. A is leading advancements in bird safety on campus in the Atlantic provinces and hopefully, other universities will begin to protect their wildlife in similar ways.
If readers of The Argosy would like to learn more about bird-friendly buildings, there are several resources available. Warman recommended Safe Wings Ottawa (safewings.ca), as well as information found at BirdSafe (birdsafe.ca) and Flap Canada (flap.org).