STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) — Oklahoma State University has made some big changes on campus to help prevent birds from accidentally flying into windows.
OSU is now one of the first major research universities in the U.S. to prioritize the reduction of bird-window collisions with the completion of a $118,000 project, by replacing regular windows with feather friendly window tint.
“This building was part of a long term monitoring program with approximately almost daily surveys over 10 years,” Tim O’Connell, associate professor for the OSU Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, said. “At this one building on campus, we had documented at least 442 dead birds of 67 different species.”
Adding small dots on windows, no more than two inches apart from each other, can make all the difference for birds.
“Birds don’t see glass under most conditions and they need some sort of visual cue to know that it’s there,” Scott Loss, professor for the OSU Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, said. “The dots that are behind us are designed specifically based on research that has shown that for the glass to be optimally visible to birds.”
Studies were done around campus for the highest collision spots and one specific area at the Noble Research Center was at the top of the list.
“It’s the worst spot in this particular building for collisions, probably due to the shape of the building,” Loss said. “Birds may be sort of funneled into this alcove on the side of the building towards the big pane of glass at the end of it, and that was quickly causing a lot of collisions.”
Through their research, they believe that birds dying by colliding with a window has resulted in a significant loss in bird population.
“When you compare, like the total number of all birds, all individuals of all species today to 50 years ago, we’re down almost three billion individuals,” O’Connell said. “We just have fewer birds in North America.”
While it may take a few years to find out, the hope is that the feather-friendly window tint will prevent bird collisions so they can add more in the future.
“See if the treatment that we’ve done on these windows can really make a difference,” O’Connell said. “We’ll know that in a couple of years and from there, hope to build some momentum to attract more funding, to be able to treat more buildings.”
Both professors added that the drop in bird population has affected the ecosystem and food chain as well, so they hope that this is the first step in increasing the bird population.