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Invisible Killer Saving Billions of Birds From Home windows–A Ebook Evaluation – 10,000 Birds


In 2007 I used to be working in a college constructing that was simply begging for chicken feeders. It was a one-story sq. constructing, 4 sides enclosing a courtyard–two sides holding workplaces and school rooms, one facet a brick-faced entrance corridor, the fourth  a glass-walled hall that allowed views of the underused, filled with inexperienced stuff courtyard. This was the place I arrange my chicken feeders, only one at first, then increasing as everybody expressed enjoyment of seeing the Carolina Chickadees, Darkish-eyed Juncos, and Downy Woodpeckers. Nicely, if you happen to’ve ever had chicken feeders close to massive glass home windows close to vegetation, you recognize what comes subsequent.

I used to be shocked when I discovered the primary physique, a feminine Towhee. I hoped it was an anomaly.  Over the subsequent few days, I discovered rising numbers, goldfinches, juncos, white-throated sparrows. Have been they all the time there and I simply by no means observed? There gave the impression to be a correlation between the variety of birds coming to the feeders and the variety of lifeless birds I used to be discovering. I purchased hawk silhouettes and reduce out much more and taped them to the partitions of the glass hall and that appeared to make a distinction (although apparently that observe is now frowned upon). There have been no lifeless birds for weeks. Day-after-day I made the rounds of the constructing, ensuring the silhouettes had not fallen down, explaining what they have been to our employees, checking the grounds. I had began slacking off, pondering the issue was solved, after I tripped over a chicken physique whereas filling the feeders. I picked up a Downy Woodpecker, an every-day customer. The window silhouettes have been gone. They have been eliminated by a zealous member of the janitorial employees, I found later, however nobody would give me the identify and contacting the division was apparently the equal of contacting the College president, truly trickier as a result of nobody needed to get on their unhealthy facet. I made a decision it was time to cease feeding the birds.

This Tufted Titmouse was discovered shocked within the glass hall a number of years after the feeders have been taken down, displaying that clear glass and vegetation are usually not a very good mixture any time. I put it in a small field for a number of hours, the place it appeared to recuperate, however research have proven that inner accidents from a strike often kill the chicken.  ©2012 Donna L. Schulman

An estimated one billion birds collide with glass annually in the USA* and most of them die; window collisions are thought of the second highest reason behind loss of life of birds after cats (placing apart the large total causes, like habitat loss and local weather change).* Many cities, together with my house, New York Metropolis, have lights-out packages (the lights confuse birds, who fly down and sometimes collide with glass buildings), constructing codes that require bird-friendly glass, and teams of volunteers, often supported by an area Audubon or different birding group, who decide up lifeless birds each morning, contributing the info to considered one of a number of dead-bird databases. Many individuals who’ve chicken feeders now use patterns or screens or paint to maintain their home windows from trying just like the entryway to greenery, some even set up bird-friendly glass, chosen from an inventory of merchandise evaluated by the American Hen Conservancy. It’s not sufficient.

It’s not sufficient as a result of we maintain discovering lifeless birds, or generally shocked birds who will, research present, finally die. And buildings with out thought for birdlife, important buildings just like the Minnesota Vikings shiny “loss of life entice” for birds, are nonetheless being constructed.** Dr. Daniel Klem, Jr., Sarkis Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg Faculty in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is anxious. Greater than involved, he’s dismayed and alarmed and has been since January 1974, when he first witnessed a Mourning Dove fly right into a window and fall to the bottom lifeless on the Southern Illinois College campus. This was his set off second, when he determined to search out out why birds fly into glass home windows and die. Dr. Klem wrote his doctoral thesis on the topic, Biology of collisions between birds and home windows, the primary scientific research of chicken and glass collisions, and has not let go, although it has taken many years for the subject to be taken critically by others, particularly the scientific group. Stable Air: Invisible Killer- Saving Billions of Birds from Home windows is the summation of Dr. Klem’s experience, expertise, {and professional} life–what we scientifically find out about chicken and glass collisions, a handbook on tips on how to forestall them, and, not insignificantly, the story of a exceptional profession.

Stable Air is split into 12 chapters, offered as if Klem was on an auditorium podium giving a logical argument on why individuals have to take window strikes critically. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not consciously offered this fashion, however as I learn the guide, I actually did really feel that Klem was writing as he talks, placing into textual content the numerous displays he has performed through the years. The primary half describes the issue (why birds hit home windows, the size of the deaths, scientific analysis, what occurs when birds strike home windows) and the second half discusses what to do about it (group and worldwide schooling, window deterrent options, authorized mandates and constructing codes, citizen science–what people can do). Apparently, the 2 center chapters speak concerning the worth of lifeless birds and the worth of reside birds, a transition from how the darkish to the sunshine, from crying to hoping. Materials earlier than the primary textual content introduces us to Klem’s mission and the way he discovered it (Preface and Prologue); in depth materials at the back of the guide offers lists of sources, knowledge, a complete bibliography, and acknowledgements.

Images, charts, and some cartoons illustrate each chapter, a complete of 78 although it looks as if much less since lots of the illustrations mix two or extra pictures. There are far fewer pictures of lifeless birds than I anticipated. A lot of the photos are of homes and buildings the place window collisions occurred, the flight cages and framed home windows utilized in Klem’s subject experiments, and the numerous merchandise and structural options that may be employed to get rid of window collisions. However, sure, there are pictures of lifeless birds and x-ray photos of the harm performed to particular person birds and pictures of the annual FLAP show, as proven under. FLAP is the Deadly Gentle Consciousness Program, positioned in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and that is how they elevate consciousness. (The pictures are literally in coloration in my Kindle version however reproduced in black-and-white on the guide’s Amazon web page. I’m unsure which format is probably the most affecting, most likely each equally.) It occurred to me that possibly I ought to submit a set off warning firstly of this evaluation. However I feel the title says all of it and can warn away anybody who will get upset by descriptions or photos of lifeless or injured birds. And I don’t assume that shall be many individuals. Lifeless birds are part of the lifetime of a birder, a feeder of birds, and of chicken science.

Images of window-killed birds from Deadly Gentle Consciousness Program (FLAP) Copyright © 2021 Daniel Klem, Jr.

I used to be notably within the analysis chapter–“Scientific Proof–Making the Case”- and was shocked to not discover the basic scientific literature evaluation, however slightly Klem’s detailed account of how he did the analysis for his dissertation, from surveying museum chicken collections on information of window kills to gathering window strike knowledge from places in Illinois and New York State, to managed subject experiments. The latter account even consists of Klem’s first foray into fund elevating, when he finds that his try to receive reimbursement from a company basis for private monies spent on supplies for his subject experiments, $695.64 (which he may in poor health afford), violates each rule within the Southern Illinois College grant software playbook. Ah, sure, college forms, all the time an innovation killer.

My shock at studying such an in depth account (I don’t have Klem’s dissertation in entrance of me, however I’m imagining this can be a extra private retelling) was tempered by the thought that Klem wasn’t describing any previous analysis, this was the FIRST analysis venture investigating why birds fly into glass. He collected the primary knowledge set, invented the experimental tools, got here up with the primary conclusions, the theories and findings upon which subsequent research have been based mostly.  Klem cites these research in direction of the top of the chapter as he tells us what is understood and never recognized.

Principally, wherever there are birds and glass and vegetation, birds are apt to fly into glass, simply as they did in my college courtyard. Window strikes happen throughout the day, often within the morning, and customarily at massive home windows at heights over 10 ft, the place vegetation is mirrored within the home windows and the birds assume they’re flying to a different tree or inexperienced habitat. As Klem emphasizes at first of the guide, we actually don’t know what a chicken sees, we will solely make educated assumptions based mostly on what we find out about their biology and conduct. Vegetation is a key ingredient, and Klem cites a 2013 research that discovered “chicken strikes have been correlated positively to window space and negatively to growth. The extra glass, the extra chicken kills. A higher variety of buildings in a concentrated space with out intervening inexperienced house ends in fewer birds and fewer killed.” Density of birds can be an element–the extra birds close to home windows, the extra probability of window strikes, and the truth that chickadees, titmice, juncos, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and hummingbirds are steadily reported as window strike victims is much less concerning the options of the person species and extra about the truth that they love chicken feeders.

There’s much more, after all, and all of it makes you marvel if we must always have chicken feeders or city inexperienced areas or fountains or home windows. Fortunately, there are alternate options to what I ended up doing, taking down the feeders, and they’re detailed within the second a part of the guide, the place we be taught concerning the growth of bird-safe sheet glass and using patterns or movies on already put in glass home windows. Klem’s analysis comes into play right here too, as he describes testing a concept that angled home windows would defend birds from deadly strikes (disappointedly, no), his work with glass producers, and his efforts to acquire a patent for his personal invention, a UV sample that stops bird-window collisions (a foul information, excellent news, unhealthy information story that serves as a cautionary story for any scientist searching for success within the enterprise world). Connecting this all collectively is the’ discovery of finest practices and efficient deterrents, the previous detailed on the finish of the chapter, the latter listed in one of many guide’s appendixes. (Would Acopian Hen Savers have labored in my glass hall? Or possibly ABC BirdTape?)

Klem’s total tone is considered one of scientific curiosity and measured endurance, however there’s additionally an undercurrent of melancholy, rooted within the 45-years plus he has endeavored to carry chicken glass collisions to the general public eye and immediate change. It has taken an extremely very long time. His seminal article, “Hen-Window Collisions,” based mostly on dissertation analysis completed in 1979, was not printed in a peer-reviewed journal till 1989.*** And it could be one other 12 years earlier than the subject had sufficient credibility to draw a physique of scientific analysis. (I consulted Google Scholar to see what number of scientific articles cited Klem’s article, which was printed in The Wilson Bulletin, now the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. Of the 169 books and articles listed, 120, 70%, have been printed between 2011 and 2022.) All through the guide, Klem tells story after story of speaking to colleagues, professionals, businessmen,  even Senator Invoice Bradley, concerning the chicken collision problem–searching for publication, invites to talk at conferences, methods to make his message heard–consequently receiving expressions of curiosity after which being rejected or just listening to nothing. He describes the change mannequin he was utilizing as follows:

From my orientation, background, and bias, scholarly work should come first to doc and set up a necessity for change. On the identical time, or ideally shortly thereafter, the science will persuade and stimulate widespread writings to succeed in a broad viewers, one which finally enlist most of the people to demand affordable, justifiable adjustments that can profit human society, which is a component and interdependent with nature. (p. 111)

Did the mannequin work? I don’t assume so, and although Klem writes that “over time, scholarship did entice the eye of widespread writers, and so they in flip have educated a far broader viewers than the scientific group” (p. 119), it’s clear from his feedback that the scientific group nonetheless tends to place chicken collisions on the sidelines. However we, birders and nature fanatics, don’t. There at the moment are a number of websites the place individuals can contribute knowledge on window strikes and chicken deaths, together with NYC Audubon’s dBird, FLAP’s World Collision Hen Mapper, iNaturalist, and, on a social media stage, the Fb group Lifeless Birds 4 Science, run by the indefatigable Heidi Trudell. The American Hen Conservancy affords a Glass Collisions Merchandise & Options Database, the place merchandise are evaluated and rated. Seven cities and one state have enacted laws and ordinances mandating bird-friendly building (not so much, however it’s a begin, and NYC and Toronto are on the highest of that record). Though the Minnesota Vikings stadium (formally the U.S. Financial institution Stadium) continues to kill over 500 birds a yr, the uproar over its design did so much to publicize the issues of glass buildings. “Hen-friendly design” is turning into a standard time period in architectural and metropolis planning circles and proponents can level to a profitable initiative, the retrofitting of New York Metropolis’s Javits Middle which lowered chicken deaths by 90%. And, then there are the pick-up-dead-birds initiatives in main cities in North America–New York Metropolis’s Undertaking Secure Flight, Chicago’s Chicago Hen Collision Displays, Toronto’s Hen Collision Monitoring Patrols, Washington, D.C.’s Lights Out DC, to call a number of. These packages present the exhausting knowledge (and our bodies) that assist persuade politicians, directors, and designers to create buildings and communities which might be protected for birds, in addition to save the few birds which might be shocked, not lifeless.

These initiatives are largely listed in Stable Air (not the Fb group or iNaturalist, social media is clearly not Dr. Klem’s forte), however not within the element or with the delight that I might count on. Perhaps it’s as a result of he’s nonetheless specializing in the analysis that also must be performed–a protracted record that he wish to see encompassing areas of economics, legislation, structure, psychology, sociology, and recreation in addition to biology, zoology, and ecology. It’s not a foul thought. It is a concrete downside that’s solvable, he factors out, rather more solvable than local weather change. “We’ve got the flexibility to repair it, however we nonetheless want the collective will” (p. 207). Maybe if I had thought extra about chicken collisions from this angle all these years in the past, I might have loved my courtyard chicken feeders for a for much longer time.

Stable Air: Invisible Killer- Saving Billions of Birds from Home windows is a guide about chicken deaths, science, easy and complicated options, and the way one man’s ardour and persistence actually could make a change. It’s value studying for the details and options regarding chicken glass collisions (and the associated metropolis lights points and even feral cat points), for perception into how change based mostly on science is made, and for an appreciation of Dr. Daniel Klem’s work.


*  American Hen Conservancy (ABC) scientists Christine Sheppard and Bryan Lenz increase on the reasoning behind the 1 billion quantity, which is cited in all places, on the ABC birds and glass collisions FAQ. A 2014 Smithsonian research concluded that collisions doubtless kill 365 million to 1 billion birds yearly within the U.S., with a median estimate of 599 million. They imagine the quantity is nearer to at least one billion as a result of since 2014 there was a gentle enhance in buildings of glass and since they assume chicken carcasses are undercounted.

** https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/28/minnesota-vikings-stadium-deadly-birds-glass

*** Klem, Jr., Daniel, Hen-Window Collisions, Wilson Bull., 101(4), 1989, pp. 606-620,   https://www.muhlenberg.edu/media/contentassets/photos/lecturers/biology/biology/college/klem/aco/paperwork/WilsonBull1989.pdf

Word: If you want to listen to Dr. Klem focus on the guide, he was interviewed on the “Hannah and Eric Go Birding Podcast,” April 21, 2022. There’s additionally a video of Dr. Klem speaking about his work on the web site of the Acopian Middle for Ornithology, Muhlenberg Faculty. Heidi Trudell talks about chicken collisions with Nate Swick on the ABA Podcast, June 27, 2019.


Stable Air: Invisible Killer Saving Billions of Birds from Home windows
by Daniel Klem, Jr., PhD
Hancock Home, Oct. 2021
224p., illustrations, $24.95; accessible in eBook, Kindle & PDF format, $4.95
ISBN: 978-0-88839-646-4 [Trade Paperback] ISBN: 978-0-88839-640-2 [Trade Hardcover]
ISBN: 978-0-88839-665-5 [eBook] Kindle Model



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