Correlates of bird collisions with buildings across three North American countries

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


© 2020 Society for Conservation Biology Collisions with buildings cause up to 1 billion bird fatalities annually in the United States and Canada. However, efforts to reduce collisions would benefit from studies conducted at large spatial scales across multiple study sites with standardized methods and consideration of species- and life-history-related variation and correlates of collisions. We addressed these research needs through coordinated collection of data on bird collisions with buildings at sites in the United States (35), Canada (3), and Mexico (2). We collected all carcasses and identified species. After removing records for unidentified carcasses, species lacking distribution-wide population estimates, and species with distributions overlapping fewer than 10 sites, we retained 269 carcasses of 64 species for analysis. We estimated collision vulnerability for 40 bird species with ≥2 fatalities based on their North American population abundance, distribution overlap in study sites, and sampling effort. Of 10 species we identified as most vulnerable to collisions, some have been identified previously (e.g., Black-throated Blue Warbler [Setophaga caerulescens]), whereas others emerged for the first time (e.g., White-breasted Nuthatch [Sitta carolinensis]), possibly because we used a more standardized sampling approach than past studies. Building size and glass area were positively associated with number of collisions for 5 of 8 species with enough observations to analyze independently. Vegetation around buildings influenced collisions for only 1 of those 8 species (Swainson's Thrush [Catharus ustulatus]). Life history predicted collisions; numbers of collisions were greatest for migratory, insectivorous, and woodland-inhabiting species. Our results provide new insight into the species most vulnerable to building collisions, making them potentially in greatest need of conservation attention to reduce collisions and into species- and life-history-related variation and correlates of building collisions, information that can help refine collision management.

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Conservation Biology