Duke Kunshan UniversityDuke Kunshan releases the first nationwide survey of bird-window collisions

Duke Kunshan releases the first nationwide survey of bird-window collisions

In collaboration with China Youth Climate Action Network and the Chengdu Bird Watching Society, Duke Kunshan University has concluded China’s first nationwide study of bird-window collisions.

Released on Sept. 9, the research uncovered major causal factors and outlined actions that could be taken to reduce collisions, including altering new building designs, retrofitting old buildings to be more bird-friendly and changing human behavior.

Binbin Li, assistant professor of environmental sciences at DKU, who initiated the project, said she hoped its findings would create a safer environment for birds in China's cities. "Simple actions could help protect birds," she added.

The most common cause of collisions is reflections on glass, often of vegetation, making it difficult for birds to detect. Potted plants and vegetation inside a window can also be a cause, as can lit interiors that make glass invisible to nocturnal birds.

The Phase II campus of Duke Kunshan University will apply bird-friendly design

The study was conducted at locations across China with the help of 128 volunteers and recorded 39 bird-window collisions over 77 days.

It founds collisions were most frequent in buildings with less than six stories and those surrounded by trees. The amount of glass surface area also affected the number of collisions. Buildings with zero to 20 percent glass surface saw no collisions, while those with glass covering more than 40 percent saw the most.

There are several ways that collisions could be reduced, according to the study. These include reducing the glass surface area on new buildings, using glass with anti-collision designs, applying window stickers, adding taut screens to window exteriors and using fritted glass or glass with ultraviolet reflective patterns.

Changing behaviors could also have an impact, such as minimizing night-time lighting indoors, drawing curtains and removing plants from near windows.

The results have influenced the construction of phase II of Duke Kunshan University’s campus, which is incorporating the bird-friendly design. Existing buildings have also been made more bird-friendly with stickers applied to large windows along the campus’s east corridor, where most collisions happened, among other retrofit initiatives.

Stickers on windows to prevent bird collisions

DKU has also partnered with conservation organizations, including the Shanshui Nature Conservation Center, Friends of Nature, Guarding Wilderness and Lei Zhu of the Chengdu Bird Watching Society to recruit volunteers for a follow-up study.

“We need more data to capture the full picture of bird-window collisions,” said Li. “That's why we launched the autumn survey and hope to keep this citizen survey project going for a long time."

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