Building collisions, and particularly collisions with windows, are a major anthropogenic threat to birds, with rough estimates of between 100 million and 1 billion birds killed annually in the United States. However, no current U.S. estimates are based on systematic analysis of multiple data sources. We reviewed the published literature and acquired unpublished datasets to systematically quantify bird–building collision mortality and species-specific vulnerability. Based on 23 studies, we estimate that between 365 and 988 million birds (median = 599 million) are killed annually by building collisions in the U.S., with roughly 56% of mortality at low-rises, 44% at residences, and [less-than] 1% at high-rises. Based on [more-than] 92,000 fatality records, and after controlling for population abundance and range overlap with study sites, we identified several species that are disproportionately vulnerable to collisions at all building types. In addition, several species listed as national Birds of Conservation Concern due to their declining populations were identified to be highly vulnerable to building collisions, including Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris), Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis), Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa), and Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum). The identification of these five migratory species with geographic ranges limited to eastern and central North America reflects seasonal and regional biases in the currently available building-collision data. Most sampling has occurred during migration and in the eastern U.S. Further research across seasons and in underrepresented regions is needed to reduce this bias. Nonetheless, we provide quantitative evidence to support the conclusion that building collisions are second only to feral and free-ranging pet cats, which are estimated to kill roughly four times as many birds each year, as the largest source of direct human-caused mortality for U.S. birds.
16 April 2014
Findings on Bird-Building Collisions Issued
Information from my personal database of bird-building collisions in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, were used in the evaluation, published in Condor in February, 2014. This is the article abstract.