The Influence of Building Size and Window Characteristics on the Frequency of Bird Fatalities at Hope College

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray

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Urban landscapes have drastically altered natural environments. One consequence of these changes is the increase in avian mortality due to collision with human structures such as wind turbines and skyscrapers. Bird-building collisions may be responsible for up to one billion avian deaths per year in the United States. As a part of the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) Bird-Window Collision project, we investigated the effect of building size, window area, and the orientation of a building on the frequency of bird window collisions (BWCs). Bird carcasses were collected from six buildings on the Hope College campus in Holland, Michigan over 21 consecutive days during the fall migration in 2014. More collisions occurred at campus buildings with greater total floor space and at those with greater window area. The date, building side orientation (N, S, E, W), and bird species all had insignificant effects on the number of bird window collisions. However, half of the carcasses collected were found under north facing windows, suggesting a larger sample size might allow demonstration of a significant effect of the building side orientation. We also noticed a high frequency of Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) fatalities which might indicate a greater susceptibility of this species to window collisions. It is our hope that this study will supplement current bird window collision research as well as inform policy makers of the impact of bird window collisions, and how those impacts may be reduced.


This research was supported by the Biology Department, Hope College and by the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN), a Research Coordination Networks program funded by the National Science Foundation.

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