13 September 2012

Smithsonian Research Evaluating Bird Hazards

A researcher at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is currently involved in a project to estimate the "magnitude of mortality caused by different human threats" including collisions with different man-made structures including buildings and communication towers, wind turbines, predation by cats, poisoning, etc.

As part of the investigation by Scott R. Loss, a postdoctoral research fellow, he is "bringing together data for bird collisions with buildings and windows. By looking at data from multiple sites across the US and applying advanced statistical methods, I am hoping to generate more rigorous estimates of the numbers of birds killed each year across the US. Also of central interest is investigating how collision risk varies seasonally, geographically, and by bird species."

Information will be evaluated as available from:

  • Toronto (Fatal Light Awareness Program)
  • Portland, Oregon (Bird Safe Portland - Portland Audubon Society)
  • Washington, DC (Lights out DC - City Wildlife, Inc.)
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Lights out Winston-Salem - Forsyth County Audubon Society)
  • Chicago (downtown buildings [Chicago Bird Collision Monitors] and 30-year data set for McCormick Place [Dave Willard, Field Museum])
  • Milwaukee (WINGS - Wisconsin Humane Society)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (University of Minnesota and Minnesota Project Birdsafe – Minnesota Audubon Society)
  • Indianapolis (Lights Out Indy – Amos W. Butler Audubon Society)
  • New York (Project Safe Flight - New York City Audubon Society)

Details for window strike instances in east Omaha, have also been provided for this project.

"We are also summarizing a lot of previously collected data from private residences and office and university campuses, including Dr. Daniel Klem's work, among other researchers," Loss said.

The goal is to "determine whether these threats have substantial effects on bird populations" and to develop "analytical methods to quantify the magnitude of bird mortality associated with direct anthropogenic threats."

"The studies for each mortality source will come out in a staggered fashion, depending on how long the peer review process takes for each," he said. "Studies will be available in the next 1-2 years in the peer-reviewed literature, and we will also produce a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service technical report summarizing the entire project."

The project is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (National Zoological Park) Postdoctoral Fellowship program.