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Project BirdSafe seeks answers on causes of bird collisions

Before humans became prominent creatures on earth, it’s hard to imagine birds had very many problems aside from natural predators and occasional disasters.

Humans are a menace to birds in many ways, including killing millions each year with cars, unintentional (and intentional) poisoning and raising the population of house cats.

But, one of the major issues facing birds, especially in city environments, are birds crashing into windows. In fact, this is probably the number one non-natural reason birds die.

Project BirdSafe, a group composed of Audubon Minnesota and University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum, is on a mission to find out why birds are crashing into buildings and perhaps making a policy recommendation on how to prevent it from happening.

What the group of volunteers from Project BirdSafe have been doing since it first started in 2007 is gathering all the dead birds they find while patrolling the grounds around buildings. Then, they document, tag and bag the birds until autopsies can be done.

They’ve found 1,900 birds from 110 different species while they patrol about 120 buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In their findings thus far, they’ve noticed that some buildings are bigger problems than others. For example, the Hennepin County Government Center (pictured left) has caused the most deaths from birds crashing into the building.

With birds, the main problem usually involves a building or window that reflects trees or the sky because it speciously draws them in. All buildings and windows pose risks to birds of they have the wrong combination of traits, such as reflecting glass and buildings in areas with high bird populations.

If you notice birds crashing into your windows, check out this article for some simple remedies.

Hopefully, when the project is finally completed, it will urge future architects and city planners to take into consideration the risks the new buildings might pose to birds.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.