Humans Can Help Keep Millions Of Birds From Crashing To Their Deaths

<p><a class="checked-link" href="" style="text-decoration: none;">Jan Arendtsz</a>/<a class="checked-link" href="" style="text-decoration: none;">Flickr</a>/CC BY 2.0</p>

Billions of bird lives are claimed by collisions into windows each year, according to some estimates.

To prevent this, two Swedish biologists examined how a special sort of glass that reflects ultraviolet light can deter birds from flying into buildings.

Glass that mirrors the environment is a hazard to urban birds. (Photo: Anders Ödeen)

The researchers calculate that glass containing 50 percent ultraviolet-light-absorbing markings can deter birds like gulls and parrots, without impeding humans looking out windows (like bird-saving grills or screens would do). But other avian species, including ducks, raptors and pigeons, would be unable to see the UV markings, the scientists point out in the journal PeerJ, because they lack the same eye structures as gulls.

For comparison, a blue-light-absorbing grid is visible to the human eye when imposed over the sky, but not when laid over a tree. (Photo: Olle Håstad)

That doesn't mean builders should reject opting for glass that deters gulls and passerine birds, however. The Audubon Society, for example, is currently calling for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium to change the glass used in construction. A switch to safer glass would save thousands of feathered lives, the bird conservation group says.

Altering glass isn't the only way to save birds from collisions. As the Humane Society notes, wind chimes, blinds and light screens are a few ways to keep birds flying out of harm's way.