Bird-safe windows taking wing at University of Guelph

Beginning with bus shelters on campus, the University of Guelph is trying to protect birds from hitting windows by making the glass more visible. University of Guelph

Some University of Guelph students and staff want to save the birds.

“We’ve been raising awareness in the area about the hazards that windows can pose to birds,” said Hayley Wilson, a PhD student and leader of Bird Safe Guelph.

Wilson studies songbird physiology and fitness in the Department of Integrative Biology.

Guelph is on a main migration flyway, she says, which means the city gets many birds flying through in the spring and fall.

Playing its part to combat window collisions resulting in millions of bird deaths every year, Bird Safe Guelph has been sending kits to local homeowners to make their windows more visible.

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The City of Guelph is on board with a bird-safe window being installed on the arched windows near the front entrance of city hall. The city has also established a bird-friendly design guideline that establishes standards to reduce bird-window collisions in Guelph. It applies to all development applications located within 120 metres of a natural heritage system.

Now, Bird Safe Guelph is focused on the University of Guelph campus, starting with bus shelters on the campus bus loop.

“We had been hearing reports of birds colliding with the glass of the bus shelters,” said Wilson.

“So, we contacted the U of G sustainability office, who helped connect us with the physical resources department. They agreed to help us launch a pilot project to place window films on the shelters.”

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The window films have a  pattern of white dots. They are designed to interfere with the reflections that can make windows invisible to birds.

The university is also updating its building design standards next year to incorporate bird safety. It will ensure any new building or major renovation conforms to the bird-friendly building design standard set out by the Canadian Standards Association.

Click to play video: 'How to prevent birds from flying into your windows'
How to prevent birds from flying into your windows

Volunteers will also launch a collision monitoring program in the spring to determine where else birds are flying into campus windows.

“That will help us put together an action plan to retrofit the highest risk windows on campus,” said Wilson.

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“The types of windows that tend to cause the most problems are large windows at tree height that reflect greenery and make birds think they can fly right through.”

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