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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

“Bird-Window Strikes at the University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh Campus 2019-2020”

Alyssa Reinke

Senior, Geography, Environmental Studies, Policy and Values Emphasis

Abstract

Approximately one billion birds are fatally injured annually in North America as a result of collisions with windows. This is a problem on the UW-Oshkosh campus, and I collect 2020 data as well as build upon a previous study that assesses bird-window strikes on campus. Both data collection years systematically record species that die from window strikes, and determine which windows or buildings on campus are most likely to be associated with bird deaths. The ultimate goal of this work is to propose potential solutions to the campus. This collection of new data is straight forward; every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning during spring migration of 2020, between 8:00 am and 10:00 am, I walked specific paths around Sage Hall, Reeve Union, and the combination of the Arts and Communication building and the Fredric March Theater. I looked for bird carcasses to see the number of birds impacted by these high risk buildings on campus. I then compared 2019 campus data to this new 2020 data.

Project Background

My name is Alyssa Reinke and I am a graduating senior with a double major in Geography and Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Policy and Values. I worked to collected 2020 spring migration bird-window strike data for 3 high risk campus buildings on the University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh campus. These 3 buildings were Sage Hall, Reeve Union, and the combination of the Arts and Communication building with the Fredric March Theater. I was looking to see how many birds were fatally injured from window strikes during this time. Then I compared it to 2019 data. While there is not enough data for proper statistical analysis, it does show that Sage Hall and Reeve Union continue to be high risk buildings on campus. I recommend the addition of stickers/films on the windows to restrict the reflectivity of the windows. This would allow the birds to recognize that there is not continued sky in these locations, but solid buildings. After collecting and comparing these data, a club on campus, the Wildlife Club, utilized this data and recommendations to submit a proposal to the Green Fund Committee, a group on campus that funds student sustainable initiatives and projects. This proposal will retrofit stickers to one side of the high-risk Sage Hall building. I wanted to do this project to make sure that there was concurring data of bird-strikes on campus, even if there was a global pandemic, but also to increase my research experiences prior to graduation. I believe this data is essential not only for our campus, but for institutions and businesses everywhere. Too many birds die from human infrastructure and human impact. Studies like this help to show that we are impacting their populations and thus diversity and species richness. It also shows that there are easy options to solve these problems. I hope to encourage other campuses and facilities to look at their impact and take steps to become more sustainable.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Morgan DiPietro

    This was a really interesting presentation! I’ve started to get into bird watching lately and realized that I don’t think about this problem very often. I agree that putting stickers on the windows would be a good and easy solution to protect our bird friends!

    Reply
    • Alyssa reinke

      It is also an easy to install solution! They go on the inside of the window which does not require you to hire someone depending on the window size. It is just like putting tint on a car window!

      Reply
  2. Peyton Flesch

    This was so interesting! This is something I don’t ever think about & didn’t realize it had an impact on bird populations!

    Reply
    • Alyssa Reinke

      It is intersting because most of the time people only think about how cats impact bidd populations, but bird-window strikes are also a large portion of the issue!

      Reply
    • Peyton Flesch

      Which species of bird was the most common to die from these window strikes during 2019 & 2020?

      Reply
      • Alyssa Reinke

        At least 25% for 2019 were unable to be identified typically because they were too damaged, but the next highest impacted birds that were identifiable were members of the Turdidae or thrush family. So we are looking at song birds like bluebirds, robins, and more.

        Reply
  3. Douglas Haynes

    Thank you for conducting and sharing this important research, Alyssa! You communicate the process and purpose of the project so clearly, and your focus on solutions at the end is really helpful.

    Reply
    • Alyssa Reinke

      Thank you very much! I appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen/read about it.

      Reply
  4. Elizabeth Wade-Sirabian

    Thank you for your work on this topic, Alyssa! By the end of your presentation, I had a good understanding of the issue and gained an appreciation of the data collection process needed for a research project such as this.

    Reply
    • Alyssa Reinke

      Thank you for listening!

      Reply

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