Campus prevents bird strikes

Mackenzie Seymour, Staff Writer

UW Oshkosh’s Sage Hall will be featuring decal installations on windows to prevent bird-window collisions next school year.

UWO’s Wildlife Conservation Club (WCC) introduced the project idea in fall 2020 after a research team collecting data on bird-window collision deaths on campus discovered birds struck windows most frequently at Sage Hall compared to other buildings.

“Approximately 1 billion birds die annually in North America as a result of collisions with windows. Recent research by a team of multidisciplinary researchers, student interns and community volunteers documented that this is indeed a problem at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh,” WCC’s proposal stated.

Misty McPhee, a UWO environmental studies professor and WCC faculty advisor, said bird-window collisions occur because windows reflect surrounding habitat, which indicates to the bird that there is more sky or trees to fly to.

Collisions also occur more frequently on buildings with high window area coverage. Although Sage Hall’s window area has not been calculated, it is believed that this is the reasoning as to why collisions occur there most frequently.

In spring 2019, the research team discovered 22 bird-window collision deaths across campus, 10 of which were at Sage Hall. Another 14 bird deaths were found at Sage later that fall. The higher frequency of deaths at Sage compared to other buildings prompted WCC to propose the idea of buying window decals.

WCC applied to the Green Fund through UWO’s Sustainability Institute. The club received approximately $11,000 for the whole project, which includes the window decals, installation and signage that explains the purpose of bird-window decals.

“The desired outcome for this project is to reduce the number of bird deaths from window collisions on campus and to educate the UWO community about bird strikes and the purpose of the window treatments,” McPhee stated.

The decals will be installed mid-summer before the fall migration. A repeating dot pattern will cover the 46 windows of Sage Hall’s entrance, covering about 155,000 in2 total.

“As the university strives to be more sustainable, we should remember that sustainability includes the non-human communities that share our campus,” McPhee explained. “This project will affect current and future students by increasing the abundance and diversity of bird species visiting campus.”