As new buildings around campus are unveiled, many feature large bay windows. While the aesthetic appeals to humans, a new initiative is raising awareness of how buildings like these — and many other human behaviors and design choices — cause bird injury and death.
The Bird Safe Campus initiative, which is managed by Tech’s Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS), was launched in October 2021 and aims to reduce bird deaths and injuries using an online data collection system. line available on dbird.org. Initiative leaders Kaitlyn Tran, third-year IE, and Shivani Potdar, first-year CHBE, realized the need to address bird safety after seeing dead birds near campus buildings.
“Shivani and I also spoke with other Georgia Tech students and found that many more had encountered dead birds on campus, which confirmed that this was a widespread phenomenon and not just of an incident,” Tran said. “It really got me thinking if there are ways to prevent such injuries.”
There are solutions to prevent these injuries, and some methods have already been implemented on campus.
“The Kendeda building was designed to be bird-friendly,” Tran said. “Look closely at the windows, and you’ll see there’s a dot pattern etched into the glass; this pattern allows birds to recognize that the glass is a physical barrier[,] so that they do not fly into the windows.
Tran explains that birds often see the reflections of trees and open sky in the glass and are drawn to it. So they fly in the glass
and can be injured or die. The glass technology seen with the Kendeda building is a solution to the problem.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done, both locally in Atlanta and nationally.
“For the past three years, the Atlanta metro area has ranked among the top ten cities in the United States for spring and fall bird strikes,” Tran said. “Each year, it is estimated that several hundred million birds (nationwide) are killed as a result of collisions with windows.”
Bird Safe Campus Project uses the website dbird.org, where users can report location, time of discovery, and other details such as bird species and causes of death or injury, if known.
The dBird Project was started by the New York City Audubon Society in 2014 as a platform where anyone could report bird deaths and injuries. The data was valuable in learning more about bird mortality. The project has expanded to cities across the country, and by working with the Georgia Audubon Society, Tran and his team are able to access data generated by the website for on-campus locations.
“We ask the GT community to report any time they find dead or injured birds on campus to dbird.org,” Tran said. “The reason for this is that much of the data we have on bird strikes on campuses is outdated. There has been a lot of construction on campus over the past few years – many new buildings have been erected and others have been modified. We would like to know which buildings are the most dangerous to birds so that we can install bird film on those specific buildings. »
One project they hope to implement is to add a bird-safe film to the
bridge connecting the Crosland Tower and the Price Gilbert Library. However, there are other dangers on campus.
“Past data from dBird has shown that the Bioquad Molecular Sciences and Engineering Building is one of the most frequently impacted buildings on campus. The multi-story glass windows, coupled with the small forest behind the building, make the area a common place to find injured birds,” Tran said.
Besides glass, another threat to birds is light pollution.
“At night, migrating birds are often attracted to bright lights from buildings,” Tran said. “They will then be disoriented by the lights, leading to collisions with buildings. So we work with GT
admin to see if it is possible to turn off the lights in these
specific campus buildings in the late hours. This will not only reduce bird collisions, but also help conserve energy.
For members of the Tech community, one of the best ways to help the cause is to report any injured or dead birds found at dbird.org. In addition, students can join the initiative.
“We would like more students to join the cause. No prior knowledge or skills required, just a passion for helping campus wildlife,” Tran said.
To get involved in the project, students can send an e-mail [email protected]