Eco-Friendly Bird Killer?

Emory University's Math & Science Center is a LEED-certified, environmentally sound building. Yet portions of the $40 million building are now draped with black mesh netting because the building is allegedly responsible for killing birds — as many as two per day — that fly into the glass.

UPDATE: See also Jim Chen's post here.

Crafty Hunter (www):
Man alive, that's a peck of a lot of birds. It would seem more feathers should fly over this refusal by birdbrains to acknowledge this fowlness.

Okay, okay, I'm sorry! :)
<blockquote>Ornithologist Daniel Klem, a professor at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania who has studied the problem for decades, said between 100 million and 1 billion birds die in the United States each year in collisions with glass.</blockquote>
11.24.2007 10:49pm
I used to work in an office building where, about once a month, a bird would fly into the window behind me, hitting it with a thunk that would invariably scare the crap out of me.
11.24.2007 11:19pm
glangston (mail):
I'm looking over to the right at the Ardiente ad for Centex homes and feeling assured that no penguins have suffered here.
11.24.2007 11:59pm
They fly into my picture window at home. Will the .gov make me put up black drapes. Not gonnna happen. Sometimes it just knocks them out and sometimes the cat takes care of them.
11.25.2007 12:58am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
I wonder what the cost of that netting per bird saved is?

Surely there are better things to do with the money.

And it might be a lot cheaper to print up a bunch of photos of hawks and tape them to the inside of the windows. This trick mitigated (if not completely solved) a similar problem in a glass-walled corridor between buildings at MIT.
11.25.2007 1:16am
And yet Bush and his cronies keep throwing up buildings with windows!

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)
11.25.2007 1:23am
Eli Rabett (www):
One day after Thanksgiving bemoaning the death of birds appears a bit hypocritical.
11.25.2007 1:26am
Tony Tutins (mail):
People usually just put up raptor silhouettes to keep birds from flying into the building.
11.25.2007 3:01am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Oh, and the real eco-friendly bird killers are propeller- and eggbeater-shaped windmills.
11.25.2007 3:02am
Bottomfish (mail):
The eco-friendly building may be a good thing if there are too many birds.
11.25.2007 3:52am
Flash Gordon (mail):
I'm a cold-hearted mean-spirited conservative. I don't recycle, I drive an enormous SUV and I'm grotesquely ugly. In short, I'm everything all beautiful liberals believe about conservatives. However, I am very much bothered by large reflective glass killing birds. To the bird, it looks like they are flying into blue sky. We human beings should feel a special responsibility not to set such death traps for our feathered friends, and with out superior intelligence we can surely think of something to do to prevent this.

I have stopped it from happening at my own house by putting up brightly colored streamers that flap in the breeze. The nets might not be the best way to protect the birds, but until something better comes along I'd be for it.

Winston Churchill was a conservative, and he also was much concerned about birds getting killed by reflective windows. Maybe this should become a cause for us conservatives. Why let the liberals have all the touchy feely fun?
11.25.2007 10:41am
Waldensian (mail):
Somebody has to say it. These birds need to learn to live within our system, and to take responsibility for their own lives and safety.

It's not up to the government to bail these happy-go-lucky avians out of their shortsighted choices. The avians -- and especially the undocumented, migrant avians -- are always looking for a handout. First birdseed and stale bits of bread, and now they are demanding that we put nets all over our buildings. Where will it stop?

Many of them come from Mexico, you know.

Unless and until the avian population demonstrates that it understands the concept of individual responsibility, the "bird brain" epithet will continue to be used, and justifiably so.

I have no sympathy for them. My ancestors migrated to this country, but they didn't go flinging themselves at buildings all day long. And even if they had done so, they wouldn't be blaming the buildings, for crying out loud.
11.25.2007 10:49am
MDJD2B (mail):

E.R. One day after Thanksgiving bemoaning the death of birds appears a bit hypocritical.

Be happy they aren't rabbits!
11.25.2007 11:07am
The solutions (netting and hawk silhouettes, or glass pebbling) are relatively simple, clear, and cheap. Would that all environmental problems could be solved this easily!
11.25.2007 11:42am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
friends, there are lots of birds out there.
11.25.2007 12:29pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Tony Tutins writes:
Oh, and the real eco-friendly bird killers are propeller- and eggbeater-shaped windmills.

A piece in the scientific journal Nature, discussing a report by the National Academy of Sciences (based on fourteen good-quality studies) on the environmental effects of windpower projects [Emma Marris and Daemon Fairless, “Wind farms' deadly reputation hard to shift,” Nature Vol. 447, Issue No. 7141 (10 May 2007), p. 126], notes that “the average death toll attributable to a typical wind turbine” is 3% of a bird per year (!) — which is to say, “it takes on average 30-odd turbine windmills to reach a kill rate of one bird a year” (emphasis added).
11.25.2007 1:47pm
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
by the false azure of the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff -- and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.

Bird-thump on windows: Makes for an odd novel-poem-critical commentary.
11.25.2007 2:21pm
Meanwhile, I wish dearly for every pigeon in my neighborhood to promptly fly into the nearest glass-encased architectual monstrosity....
11.25.2007 7:37pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Looking for an accessible version of the Nature article on the National Academies website, I found an entire monograph on the environmental impact of wind farms. The four takeaways I got regarding birds were (1) Bird death is highly site specific. (2) Extrapolations based on bird flight characteristics and rotor size and speed are inaccurate, for one reason because they don't take into account bird attraction/repulsion to the rotors (3) For an accurate tally, you have to make sure you get the corpses before the scavengers do. (4) The real problem may not be birds, but bats, for which more work needs to be done.
11.25.2007 8:45pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Meanwhile, it would appear, folks who present themselves as being oh-so environmentally conscious keep thrashing about searching for something, anything, that they can deem windmills guilty of.  Odd, no?
11.26.2007 3:35am
. . ."keep thrashing about searching for something, anything, that they can deem windmills guilty of."

Clearly a recrudescence of Netherlandophobia. First they came for the Dutch, and I said nothing, because I was not Dutch . . .
11.26.2007 7:22am
Anonymous Hoosier:
Anyone have any information on how Klem reached his estimate of 100M to 1B birds per year? In an NPR story, he says that a "typical" suburban house causes 100 bird deaths/year (~ 2/week), and an office tower can cause 10,000. If those number is accurate, Emory would appear to be overreacting to its "as many as two per day" problem.
11.26.2007 11:15am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Michael Edward McNeil -- the world is not black and white, but contains many fascinating shades of gray.
11.26.2007 1:03pm
Dick King:
100 bird deaths per suburban house per year?

I've had my rather typical house [except that we have a lot of glass, living as I do in California] for over 20 years, and we've had one bird strike.

11.26.2007 6:30pm
Dick King:

"the average death toll attributable to a typical wind turbine" is 3% of a bird per year (!)

How many wind turbines does it take to replace a nuclear power plant? [I think about 1000 or 2000.] So the windmills that replace a nuclear power plant collectively kill 30-60 birds per year.

How much howling would there be if, as an unavoidable part of the way it operates in practice, each nuclear power plant killed dozens of birds per year?

11.26.2007 6:33pm