Duke University’s bird collision problem

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Duke University has quite the bird problem on its hands.

Students say more than 100 birds collided into university windows in just the last year and now there’s big push to get that changed.

There are several buildings at Duke in particular that have very large glass windows.

And because the university is in the middle of a heavily wooded area, the birds are colliding right into them.

“People just started coming to my office with birds that were dead or stunned,” said Natalia Ocampo-Penuela, a PhD student with the Nicholas School at Duke. “We found 118 collisions in seven buildings.”

She said those collisions in 2014 were entirely preventable.

“Birds see UV and we don’t. So, you can put a layer of UV inside the glass visible to the birds but not to humans,” she said.

There are pictures of dead birds that were found all over campus, but the building with the most collisions is Duke’s Engineering Center.

Dr. Nicolette Cagle is an ecologist at Duke and said this is a big problem.

He believes people should care that birds are dying all over campus.

“Birds don’t have binocular vision like we do. So, they often times will just slam right into the windows because they see that reflection of forests and trees and think that they’re going into the forest,” he said.

Ocampo-Penuela agreed.

“Imagine a bird flying all the way from Argentina, went through hawks, through hurricanes and hits a window, and dies, it’s just not fair,” she said.

There was a study done at 45 different universities across North America, and Duke was one of the worst when it came to bird collisions.

Ocampo-Penuela said her group is in talks with the University about how to fix the problem.

Read more about the problem here.

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