Report: 4 billion birds die annually in building crashes, cat attacks

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Energy and Environment,Smithsonian Institution,National Parks,Endangered Species Act

The largest and most comprehensive study of bird collision deaths ever finds that nearly 1 billion birds die in building crashes every year, a shocking number that has fans of the feather creatures urging construction companies to use new materials to stop the annihilation.

The mortality study from over 92,000 records found that between 365 million and 988 million birds crash and die in the United States. The number easily climbs over 1 billion when reports from Canada are included.

Only cats are a bigger danger to birds, killing as many as 3 billion a year in the U.S.

“Our analysis indicates that building collisions are among the top anthropogenic threats to birds and, furthermore, that the several bird species that are disproportionately vulnerable to building collisions may be experiencing significant population impacts from this anthropogenic threat,” said the authors of “Bird-building Collisions in the United States: Estimates of Annual Mortality and Species Vulnerability.”

The just released study highlighted the birds most endangered — and by what kind of structure:

— Golden-winged Warbler and Canada Warbler at low-rises, high-rises and overall buildings.

— Painted Bunting at low-rises and overall.

— Kentucky Warbler at low-rises and high-rises.

— Worm-eating Warbler at high-rises.

— Wood Thrush at residences.

The report was composed by members of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was circulated by the Washington based American Bird Conservancy.

According to American Bird Conservancy’s Christine Sheppard, who heads the only national collisions campaign program in the U.S., the study is a further demonstration that collision reduction efforts are needed in building construction.

Some of the ideas they suggest are easy, such as putting "bird tape" on windows to scare the birds away. Decals work too.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.