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Science Ponders How To Decrease Bird-Window Collisions

Oregon Dept. Fish & Wildlife

Improvements to sustainability efforts at Lane Community College could involve students searching for bird carcasses around the campus.

Let’s cut cats some slack. Turns out a significant number of dead birds can also be tracked to: windows.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Cat watching turkeys.

“The second largest contributor to bird deaths, continental-wide at least,” says LCC Biology Instructor Colin Phifer. 

For seven weeks, he's having students survey six buildings on the main campus for bird-window collision “hot spots”. 

Phifer adds they’re taking it from the perspective of design.

“Buildings for example, we want more windows. Because that allows for more natural light, that actually means we can turn our lights on less, which helps us save energy, which is good for sustainability," Phifer tells KLCC.

Credit Photo provided by Colin Fisher. / Lane Community College
Lane Community College
Two dead birds recently documented by LCC biology students. As of January 22, 2020 there were seven recorded around six campus buildings.

"But we also want to look at the consequences of that.  And one may be that birds have a harder time seeing that surface, seeing that window, and actually hit it.”

Phifer says besides giving his students experience with the scientific method, he hopes to also possibly work with LCC’s Art Department to design a sticker that could keep birds from smacking into windows.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.