The advancement of human civilization has always chronicled its successes but has never cared to ponder about the sacrifices that other species have been forced to undergo to pave the path for success. To say that human progress has been achieved at the expense of killing many bird species would be the right way to highlight the sorry plight of birds that have been compelled to die at the altar of human progress. How much harm humans have caused to nature will be understood more easily if we take into consideration the number of deaths that happen every year to birds hitting windows and meeting with death. Who has not heard the thud of a bird hitting the window and falling to its death? The poor creature did little know that it was colliding into the glass wall of prosperity and progress only to meet its death only because it looked at the world in a different way than humans.
Why do birds hit glass windows? Birds unlike humans cannot make out the difference between real and virtual images. To them, whatever catches their eyes is real. So, when a bird flies towards a glass window and sees the reflection of the sky and trees on glass, it cannot make out the difference between a real image and the reflected one. As a result, it is deceived by the glass image and collides against it. The death rate on account of birds hitting windows is very high in the US and it is estimated at one billion annually.
Buildings, especially high rises, are not the only human structures that are dangerous for birds. Communication towers, power transmission towers and wind turbines that are similar in height to any high rise building are also potential dangers for flying birds. With rapid growth of wind turbines across the US, the mortality rate of birds is likely to touch 2 million by the year 2030.
Countering the threats
Admitting that the threat potential is likely to increase in days to come, bird conservationists have come out with some innovative solutions to minimize incidents of birds hitting windows and any other tall structures like towers and wind turbines.
- Bird- safe glass – It is recommended that tall buildings use bird-safe glass for windows to reduce bird deaths. Fixing translucent bird tapes on window glasses reduce the reflective properties of transparent glass considerably thereby reducing the possibility of birds being deceived by the reflection. There are some other similar solutions that can be selected according to the budget.
- Selective placement of towers – Instead of installing towers randomly, advice can be sought from bird caring groups for guidance in setting up the structures at places where the impact of collision can be minimized. The idea is to avoid setting up towers in bird sensitive zones.
Besides such initiatives, what is required is stronger regulations that can make it mandatory to think about birds before setting up tall structures. Then only, the measures to prevent bird extinction would become meaningful.