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Colorado State University – Pueblo Biology Professor part of Bird Collision Research

Release Date: July 21, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

719-549-2810

Colorado State University – Pueblo Biology Professor part of Bird Collision Research

PUEBLO – Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Claire Varian Ramos recently collaborated with 60 other researchers on a study of bird/window collisions conducted in part on the CSU-Pueblo campus. The study, recently published in the journal Biological Conservation, revealed that bird-window collisions are a major cause of mortality for migrating birds and that collision mortality may be reduced or eliminated by constructing buildings with smaller amounts of sheet glass and retrofitting windows in existing buildings with frit patterns on glass surfaces, which may make windows more visible to birds.

Researchers estimate that nearly 1 billion birds die annually in North America after colliding with windows in the exterior walls of buildings. Numerous bird species are affected by bird-building collisions, including species important in conservation that are declining through their ranges.

Ramos, along with an international team of more than 60 researchers, began the study in late 2014, led by Stephen B. Hager from Augustana College, (Rock Island, Ill.) and Bradley J. Cosentino (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, N.Y.). CSU-Pueblo’s Library Academic Resource Center, Greenhorn Hall, University Childcare Center, Fieldhouse, Technology and Administration buildings were used in the project along with facilities on 40 other college campuses.

The“carcass survey” conducted over a six-week period involved counting the number of bird carcasses found around designated buildings that were categorized by size and land type surrounding each building. According to Ramos, CSU-Pueblo was the only campus that included buildings with the prairie/grassland designation as all other campuses (and our Library and Academic Resources Center) were considered forested due to the number of large trees surrounding the buildings.

“I was really excited to be a part this type of collaboration,” Ramos said. “With bird-window collisions as a major cause of morality for migrating birds, I hope this survey will encourage the use of bird safe windows and generally raise awareness of the issue as we discuss future campus planning.”

CSU-Pueblo tallied 13 window strikes in the six-week period with the most carcasses logged around the LARC. The Fieldhouse and Childcare Center had no marks during the six weeks. At CSU-Pueblo, the chipping sparrow had the highest fatality rate along with American robins. Ramos said most smaller birds are at risk for running into windows, and large buildings with lots of windows have the most mortalities. Rural areas have higher rates of window strikes than urban areas.

Across all 40 campuses, 324 carcasses were tallied with an average of 8.1 per site and a range of 0-34 carcasses per site. Ramos said the General Classroom Building had not been constructed at the time of the study, but does raise concerns due to the amount of exterior glass.

Ramos said the study reveals the types of buildings most likely to be dangerous to birds, which allows for the best use of limited conservation money. Ramos and her team suggest additional research be conducted on buildings not well sampled in the study (non- university buildings like convention centers, stadiums, etc.), on the role of urbanization in other seasons of the year, as well as human-related sources of bird mortality, especially related to the most vulnerable species.  

Colorado State University - Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.

--CSU-Pueblo--

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