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Expert Says Glass Is Major Threat to Birds 170

Posted by michael
from the fly-slower dept.
dlkf writes "According this AP article, 'Glass is ubiquitous and it's indiscriminate, killing the fit and the unfit... estimates (are) that collisions with glass kill up to 1 billion birds a year in the United States alone.' First wind turbines and now glass. What will they come up with next..."
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Expert Says Glass Is Major Threat to Birds

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  • Heh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DiscoOnTheSide (544139) <ajfili@ e d e n . r utgers.edu> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:11AM (#8156682) Homepage
    Just like walls and other cars are a major threat to drivers, porn sites to computer geeks, and a job in the real world for all those heavily pierced freaks. I don't consider this THAT newsworthy... :) (Not Trolling, just burning some midnight karma. :))
    • ...because not enough birds are killed by them. How long d'ya reckon it'll be before someone organises the real-world equivalent of a Google-bombing to correct that oversight?

      (Cue gun-rights flamewar, grin, duck, run :-)
  • by narratorDan (137402) <narratordan@gmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:13AM (#8156691)
    ...can't hurt you so relax Bob, and keep flying sou..[THUD!]

    "Look mommy a dead parrot!"

    NarratorDan
    • It's not dead, it's... uh... resting!
      • Mr. Praline : 'Ello. I wish to register a complaint. (The owner has his back to the register and does not respond.) Mr. Praline : 'Ello, Miss?

        Owner : (turning around, very angry) What do you mean, "miss"?

        Mr. Praline : I'm sorry, I have a cold. (The owner nods, understanding.) I wish to make a complaint!

        Owner : (hurriedly) Sorry, we're closin' for lunch...!

        Mr. Praline : Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot, what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

        Owner : Oh
  • by Catskul (323619) * on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:15AM (#8156698) Homepage
    Ban Glass !
    The greedy Glass manufacturing Corperations are out to ruin our envrionment !.
  • A Beowulf cluster of glass!

    Wait, that's called a "building". Never mind.
  • by nocomment (239368) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:23AM (#8156726) Homepage Journal
    I used to have a bird that crashed into my window every morning at 6:30 sharp. Then one day it stopped. I wondered if it moved but I guess it died.
    • " I used to have a bird that crashed into my window every morning at 6:30 sharp. Then one day it stopped. I wondered if it moved but I guess it died."

      This is very common for certain types of birds during mating season. For weeks this one bird flew into my bedroom window repeatedly at 7 in the morning. Eventually I put up something opaque behind the window and it got the idea that it was not seeing a potential mate there.

  • by bersl2 (689221) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:30AM (#8156736) Journal
    The problem, of course, is not the glass; it's this pesky desire of ours to have transparent artificial barriers as part of our dwellings---something which will not go away.

    Much of the time, my sympathies lie mostly with the animals; but in this case, they're kinda on their own. Survival of the fittest...

    May they all live long enough to have more sex than I do...

    (Which leads me to a deep thought: right now, at this very moment, millions (billions?) of creatures are having sex. None of them are me.)

    Goddamn I need sleep...
    • by bhima (46039) <Bhima.Pandava@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:49AM (#8156796) Journal
      Here in Austria we have the shadows of predator birds on most glass stuff that the goverment puts up. Not on houses or buildings but on highway dividers and bus stops and things like that. I supose it helps, but I really don't know.
    • by ajagci (737734) on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:07AM (#8156852)
      The problem, of course, is not the glass; it's this pesky desire of ours to have transparent artificial barriers as part of our dwellings---something which will not go away.

      You're right--it won't go away. Just like that pesky desire to pollute or to take over all arable land. However, desires can be curbed, and it is a mark of civilization that we do curb our desires and don't live out every one of them.

      In the case of glass, there are plenty of architectural ways in which we can have brightly lit dwellings with gorgeous views without creating traps for birds.

      Much of the time, my sympathies lie mostly with the animals; but in this case, they're kinda on their own. Survival of the fittest...

      Humans are fittest, for now, so, yes, we can kill off all other (large) animals. Trouble is, in the long run, that is not an adaptive strategy for us: we are dependent on a functioning environment. So, what you suggest, namely not worrying about the survival of animals, is, in the long run, maladaptive for us: it will bring about our own extinction.
    • May they all live long enough to have more sex than I do...

      That may not be really all that long you know... you are a nerd after all :)
    • Windows are good (at least this meaning of "windows"... hehe). Would you rather live in a windowless box without any natural light ever or have holes in the walls with wind, rain and sometimes snow coming in?

      I guess it'd be ok to complain about glass that's not for seeing through but is just decorative like on some skyscrapers...

    • (Which leads me to a deep thought: right now, at this very moment, millions (billions?) of creatures are having sex. None of them are me.)

      Of course not. You're reading slashdot. ;-)

    • The problem, of course, is not the glass; it's this pesky desire of ours to have transparent artificial barriers as part of our dwellings---something which will not go away.

      [Advice for male birds] I think the solution is to not have sexy pictures of birds that can be easily seen from outside.

      [Advice for female birds] I have to wonder if the birds that impact airplanes are all female. After all, don't they all look like giant penises as they come towards you?
  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:53AM (#8156804)

    Eating a leading cause of Heart Disease, Wisconsin man discovers that a red cape will not let you fly, Running full force into a wall "really DOES hurt" according to Arkansas resident, and Kids say the cutest things!!
    yeesh.

    Sera
  • What of it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gnalre (323830) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:57AM (#8156824)
    So do domestic cats. What of it.

    Call it evolution in action

    • Yes, cats do kill birds. In fact, they are much more of a threat to birds than glass is.

      Many of us will have seen several, if not dozens of birds killed by cats. How many have you seen killed by glass? Personally, I have seen maybe 1 or 2 in my lifetime.

      Evolution in action? If several whole species get completely wiped out from an ecosystem, then I wouldn't call that evolution.
      • Why not? Evolution can apply to ecosystems as a whole, not just individual species. A stronger species will dominate over a weaker species, and the weaker species will wane into oblivion. Let's call it an increase in net fitness.
        • By your rather heavy-handed definition, the extinctions of the Dodo, the Moa and the passenger pigeon are all the result of evolution.
          After all, the stupid birds should have just evolved kevlar feathers.

          Putting glass in the flight path of birds is not going to make birds evolve because (one can safely assume) none of them have the advantage of being able to identify and steer clear of glass.
          • By your rather heavy-handed definition, the extinctions of the Dodo, the Moa and the passenger pigeon are all the result of evolution. After all, the stupid birds should have just evolved kevlar feathers.

            And he's exactly right. Evolution of species happens largely because of environmental pressures. Plenty of food? Species get bigger. Not much food? Species get smaller. Humans put enormous evolutionary pressure on many species. Those that adapt quickly do well (common pigeons). The others...

            • Plenty of food? Species get bigger. Not much food? Species get smaller.
              This is more true of individuals than species.

              Those that adapt quickly do well (common pigeons).
              As far as the rock dove is concerned, it did not have to adapt in order to live in cities because it was already well suited to the environment; these birds like buildings because they resemble cliffs and they will readily nest on the abundant ledges thereon.

              • Disregarding your post's minor inaccuracies for the moment, what is your point? That environmental pressures do not impact on the evolutionary development of species?
                • Disregarding your post's minor inaccuracies for the moment
                  I do try to be accurate, so let me know where you think these inaccuracies lie - I can handle it.
                  what is your point?
                  To refute your examples.

                  Of course environmental pressures impact on the evolutionary development of species, but in order to be useful, the word evolution should be reserved to describe modification of species to become more or less fit for their environment.

                  I don't think that you could use the word evolution to describe a successf
                  • Alright, then. Your first inaccuracy is in claiming that food availability does not impact the size of a species. In fact, while it is not the sole determinant of the body mass of a species, it is a significant one. Very simply put, larger animals require more food. Generally, any given species will occupy a continuum of genetically predetermined body sizes. Within this continuum, the larger individuals will require more food, and the smaller will require less. When nutritional sources are scarce, large ind
                    • Your first inaccuracy is in claiming that food availability does not impact the size of a species
                      Maybe I have lost some of my skill with the written language, but I still can't see where in my post I said this.

                      There have been plenty of studies that show how species can adjust their own numbers based on availability of food but where are the studies that show an increase or decrease in size of a species? I don't think your two paragraphs of homespun rhetoric really cut the mustard.

                      We aren't distinct from
                    • Hold on a second. In the first sentence of your last post you claim that you "can't see where in my post I said this" (claiming that food availability does not impact species size). Then in your next paragraph you go on to try to refute that very same idea by calling it homespun rhetoric. You aren't consistent from one paragraph to the next in the same post! Look, go read up on Evolution. TalkOrigins is a good place to start. Then do some research on a man named Edward Drinker Cope. My "homespun rhetoric" i
                    • Trust me, I'm not in quite so much of a diametrically opposed position to your own as you seem to think.

                      I haven't got time to respond to all this paranoid, bunker-mentality poo, though.
                    • Caught you being self-contradictory too many times, didn't I? That's okay, you didn't seem too interested in holding up your end of the debate anyway. Take care -- maybe next time!
                    • Caught you being self-contradictory too many times, didn't I?
                      These contradictions are imagined.

                      you didn't seem too interested in holding up your end of the debate
                      Simply put, you started investing so much time in your posts that to answer each point would take more time than I have to spare.

    • Sometimes it's a bit of both. We used to have a cunning but lazy cat who would camp out under the big window, and pounce on the stunned birds that occasionally flew into it.
    • Oh, when I saw this I thought that you meant that domestic cats ran into glass like birds do. We used to have two house cats who imagined that they were mighty hunters of the veldt (which is better than what they were, which is tubby, neutered, not overly intelligent {even for a cat} heat sinks that blocked the heat registers). Anyways both of our cats, Scamper and Duke, had incidents when they saw birds on our deck and thinking that the green shag carpet in our living room was grass, began to stalk them. T
  • Birds? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:09AM (#8156858) Homepage Journal
    What about people? Doesn't everybody here have at least one relative/friend who this has happened to?

    In any event, this doesn't affect me. My cats will take down anything within a 100-ft radius of the house, so my windows stay thud-free.

    • What about people? Doesn't everybody here have at least one relative/friend who this has happened to?

      Some years ago, one of the tasts that I had involved occasionally delivering some equipment for events at a nearby synagogue. The only place to park and unload was next to a glass wall that had two glass doors. One evening, when backing out in the dark, I didn't notice that the door was still open. Crunch!

      The next day, when I went in to talk to the rabbi about it, first his secretary and then he laugh
  • Birds and windows (Score:5, Informative)

    by moorhens (564268) on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:36AM (#8156922)
    First, a billion birds sounds like an over-estimate, but even if it isn't it probably won't make any serious difference to any bird populations. Every year, most birds die, which is why they need to raise lots of young to keep going at all. Previous studies of birds vs windows, birds vs traffic, birds vs cats generally show that those that die are effectively part of the natural surplus rather than this being new deaths. Not much comfort for the individual bird, but hey.

    Secondly, most birds that conservationists (and yes, we are as scientific and geeky as the average /. er) are really worried about don't live in built-up areas so the impact with glass is likely to be less of a problem.

    Thirdly, window stickers (especially those shaped like a hawk) can sharply reduce the level of impacts especially against windows that look like a fly-through to somewhere else.

    And finally, when you find a bird that hit a window, someone will say it's broken its neck. Not so. Birds' necks are much longer and more flexible than most people realise until they see a lolling corpse. The commonest cause of death against a window is brain haemorrage.

    • ...when you find a bird that hit a window, someone will say it's broken its neck. Not so. Birds' necks are much longer and more flexible than most people realise until they see a lolling corpse. The commonest cause of death against a window is brain haemorrage.

      Oh, that makes me feel so much better.
    • Re:Birds and windows (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xilmaril (573709)
      a story to relate.

      a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the computer (what else), when I heard a *thud* and the entire house shook. it was like an earthquake.

      the cause? a local bird (I don't know what they're called. think really big, really fat pheasant) had flown into one of the exterior walls. not a window, mind, a wall. It sat there for about 10 minutes, stunned (time enough for me to take pics of it demolishing a tomato vine), then it stood up, wandered around my yard for a while, and flew off.

      I know ho
      • a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the computer (what else)

        I dunno, I usually sit on a chair or something, they're usually much more comfortable than a computer. You should try it sometime...
    • Re:Birds and windows (Score:2, Informative)

      by jackbird (721605)
      Secondly, most birds that conservationists (and yes, we are as scientific and geeky as the average /. er) are really worried about don't live in built-up areas so the impact with glass is likely to be less of a problem.

      True, but they migrate through them. The major cities of the Eastern US are on a huge flyway, for example, which is one reason there's a National Wildlife Refuge inside the New York City limits.

    • A lot of the birds may not live in built-up areas, but a hell of a lot migrate through cities. (Hey, they've been flying that same route for a long time. "Where'd that building .. *THUD*")

      Large tall glass buildings are particularly bad because they're (1) large, (2) tall, (3) glass, and definitely (4) illuminated at night. This site [learner.org] talks about the problem and programs (like FLAP [flap.org]) to turn off lights at night, especially during migration and rescue the not-dead-yet injured birds.

  • ...there's a big 6ft by 10ft glass pane in my house - at least once a month a bird (normally a pidgeon) whacks into it, normally either breaking a load of bones (in which case a guy from the RSPB comes round), or dies instantly. Once I've returned home to find the pane completely cracked with a duck lying in the grass...
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Monday February 02, 2004 @07:51AM (#8157249) Homepage
    ..."smart" birds avoid running Windows ;)

    Ron
  • Slashdot story from the Mysterious Future:

    "Glass manufacturers release new bumper sticker: Glass doesn't kill birds, I kill birds!"
  • by dpilot (134227) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:25AM (#8157651) Homepage Journal
    My place of employment has glassed-in corridors between buildings, some of those corridors being multi-story. They have solved the bird problem by placing stick-on silhouettes of some sort of predatory bird, one on every other pane, or so. I haven't seen or heard of a collision, since.

    But back when they were happening, the birds left a beautiful dust pattern on the windows as they hit. It captured incredible levels of detail to the feathers, etc.
  • This is just another excuse for my neighbor who "loves animals" to not remove the half-inch layer of dirt from her windows.

    • This is just another excuse for my neighbor who "loves animals" to not remove the half-inch layer of dirt from her windows.

      Why do you care how much dirt is on your neighbor's window?
      Are you the neighborhood cleanliness enforcer or the neighborhood peeping tom?
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:59AM (#8157861)
    A year ago I heard a big bang and found a dazzled rare (at least in my neck of the woods) Black Woodpecker [kerihuel.free.fr] on the ground. I managed to grab it before the cat did, held it in my hands for 5 minutes letting it come to its senses and let it fly away.

    The bird probably survived because woodpeckers should be well equipped to deal with head-shocking events.

    It's not often that you get to see these birds close up, not to mention hold them and quitely look at them. Quite an experience.

  • I think that pretty much says it all. Stew on that.
  • Seriously though, birds are particularly prone to hitting glass (and buildings) in areas of high light pollution (like New York) -- many scientific studies have been done on this -- see The Fatal Light Awareness Program [flap.org] and the ODP for general light-pollution info [dmoz.org].
  • by El (94934)
    What will they come up with next? Uh... airplanes?
  • Stop using windows! (the glass kind) There by increasing the amount of lights you need to use in the house (esp. in the summer time) and increasing power consumption!

    Great googly moogly
  • Moved back to the countryside while I'm looking for a job. My parents feed the birds and about once an hour one of them runs into the window of the room where I'm typing this, knocks himself out and gets eaten by the cat / crow / hawk that happened to pass first.

    But there are still plenty of those species. I'm more worried about some that have utterly disapeared in the 15 years I was away: no more swallows for instance. Global warming or excessive use of bug spray ?

    • Are you suggesting that global warming has disrupted the swallows' migration patterns?

      Don't worry, they'll be back... and they'll hopefully bring plenty of coconuts with them.
  • One of my neighbors had a 200-lb buck break through a sliding glass door into their living room, stomp around for a bit (spraying arterial blood over pretty much everything), and promptly leave. They think he might have been attracted by a miniature orange tree in their house. The buck died from blood loss about 10 feet from their house. They added curtains and a bunch of distracting plants in about a week.

    Moral of the story - if people want to fix the problem of things hitting glass, they'll probably nee

  • by macdaddy (38372)
    PETA [peta.org] will have a field day with this. I pop over to their site every once in a while to get a good laugh. Sensationalism as its best!
  • Remember that 1,000,000,000 dead birds means 1,000,000,000 easy meals for birds that know how to avoid windows. The ones that hit my greenhouse rarely last through the day before other critters, including birds, leave nothing but a pile of feathers.

    For animals, an increase in the food supply usually means increased reproduction. So does this really have any impact on the birds population, or is it an increase in turnover?
  • Poem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joebok (457904) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8161678) Homepage Journal
    From Pale Fire by V. Nabokov:

    I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
    By the false azure in the windowpane;
    I was the smudge of ashen fluff--and I
    Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.
    And from the inside, too, I'd duplicate
    Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
    Uncurtaining the night, I'd let dark glass
    Hang all the furniture above the grass,
    And how delightful when a fall of snow
    Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
    As to make chair and bed exactly stand
    Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!


    Great book!
  • by DynaSoar (714234)
    The populations of birds are for the most part remaining stable. Those that declining are doing so for reasons other than running into windows. Therefore these birds happen to be dying by running into wondows rather than something else that would kill them at about the same rate, quite possibly starvation. Now, which is kinder?

    Why not come to the aid of earthworms (which are far more beneficial then most birds) and tell everyone not to walk on the ground after it rains?

    To keep most birds from running into
  • Maybe what is required is an allision sensor ? When it detects that a bird is at risk of alliding with a window it flashes a light, hoots a horn, or some other thing that might warn the bird away.

    (What is an allision? When something bumps into a stationary object it is an allision, not a collision.)

  • In other news, predators kill billions of animals per year.
  • killing the fit and the unfit That's not how it works... If you die, you are unfit, by definition. Birds that can't see glass or can't withstand the impact are unfit for that environment. Fitness is not some subjective thing, it's a rule.
  • Thats right now that we know windows kills birds we have yet another reason to use Linux.
    Sorry it had to be said :)

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