Science Cafe presents Glass Casualties
From Nina Thornton
Can wild birds survive our modern love affair with windows? Life is a series of challenges for wild creatures. Finding food, fighting for space, attracting a mate and raising offspring – all within the context of avoiding predators and other dangers – have pressured wildlife and shaped their bodies, abilities and behaviors over aeons into the creatures we know today. But what happens when a new challenge arises, especially one that they can’t recognize as a danger? In the blink of an evolutionary eye, human industry has progressed to create worlds in which glass is ubiquitous. But for all its utility, beauty, and design flexibility in the human world, glass can be a deadly barrier for flying birds. In the Lower 48 States, more than one million birds die every day, on average, from collisions with barriers they never knew were there. Dr. Tim O’Connell in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is soon to conclude a 10-year effort to monitor bird collisions with windows at a single building on the OSU campus. He will illustrate the scope of the problem drawing largely on his experience encountering hundreds of casualties from thousands of surveys over that time. With departmental colleague Dr. Scott Loss and graduate students in the Loss Lab, research right here at OSU is helping provide insights to help us better design and manage the built environment to be more compatible with flying birds. What remains to be seen is whether populations of native birds can rebound if we do that.