Augustana professor publishes research why birds fly into windows


Share
Originally Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013, 12:48 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 16, 2013, 12:53 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

Press release submitted by Augustana College


Report in PLOS ONE highlights new research on bird collisions with windows

Rock Island, Ill. – On Wednesday, Jan. 9, PLOS ONE, an international, online scientific journal, published research on the unusual phenomenon of bird-window collisions (BWCs). Authored by Dr. Stephen B. Hager, professor of biology at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill., the research article is called "Window Area and Development Drive Spatial Variation in Bird-Window Collisions in an Urban Landscape."
Dr. Hager, along with a small team of researchers and undergraduate students from Augustana, studied patterns of BWCs from randomly selected buildings constructed in a mix of habitats in a large city in northwest Illinois. Dr. Hager said, "We found that the number of collision mortalities was highly variable across the landscape, and the driving factors that influenced BWCs were the amount of windows in a building and proportion of development in which a building was found."
He continued, "For example, BWCs were highest at buildings, such as offices, with lots of windows—about 50 fatalities in a year—and no fatalities were found at small houses. Also, BWCs were highest at buildings in green space and non-existent in highly developed areas."
Previously published reports suggested that BWCs occur wherever birds and windows co-exist, and that more birds die from window collisions than any other human-related threat. The most widely cited estimate asserts that 1-10 fatalities occur each year at every building in the United States, which estimates more than 1 billion birds die annually.
Dr. Hager said the new research points out that BWCs may not be as widespread and common as is currently believed—that only a small number of vulnerable species are affected in high-risk areas, and the results call into question the utility of broad-scale estimates of BWCs, e.g., 1-10 collision fatalities per building per year.
"Applying an overall mortality estimate for one large city or the entire United States distracts us from understanding the complex nature of this issue, that is the driving factors that create patches of hot spot areas for collisions," said Dr. Hager.
He added, "Despite these findings, we are obligated to reduce the impacts of windows on wild bird populations, and knowing of the driving factors of BWCs allows one to predict the magnitude of mortality for each building across the landscape. This is beneficial to bird conservationists because it allows them to focus conservation efforts in hot spot areas and ignore buildings that that pose little risk of BWCs."
-more-
Dr. Hager believes urban planners could minimize future collision mortality by constructing buildings in areas away from green space, and architects could design buildings with windows and BWCs in mind.
Working with Dr. Hager on the research team was Dr. Bradley Cosentino, a 2004 Augustana graduate who now is a biology professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, N.Y. Dr. Cosentino helped design the study and analyze the data.
Augustana students, including Kirsten Bjornson '11, now in graduate school for neuropharmacology, worked as field technicians who surveyed the study buildings for carcasses resulting from window collisions.
Other contributors include Kelly J. McKay, Cathleen Monson, Walt Auurdeeg and Brian Blevins, local bird enthusiasts and experts who collaborated with Dr. Hager to design the experiment and complete the field work.
Published by PLOS, a nonprofit organization, PLOS ONE is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline. PLOS ONE is freely accessible online, offering fast publication times and community-based dialogue on articles.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Hager, please contact Keri Rursch, director of public relations, at (309)794-7721 or kerirursch@augustana.edu.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860, Augustana College is a selective four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences. Augustana is recognized for the innovative program Augie Choice, which provides each student up to $2,000 to pursue a high-impact learning experience such as study abroad, an internship or research with a professor. Alumni include 140 Academic All-Americans, a Nobel laureate, 12 college presidents and other distinguished leaders. The college enrolls 2,500 students and is located along one of the world's most important waterways, the Mississippi River, in a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.


















 




Local events heading








  Today is Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States.
1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment.
1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan.
1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war.
1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs.
1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.






(More History)