March 4th, 2014

Conservation Acton Committee

March 4, 7 pm Meeting Minutes

135 Eastlake Road

Ithaca, NY

Present: Hollie Sutherland, Jody Enck, Taylor Heaton, Candace Cornell

• Report on CU Student Bird Club participation

Taylor used Google Poll to query students about participating in our bird collision study. She sent about 100 emails and got 22 positive replies, which is an impressive response. The most frequent questions posed by the students concerned the frequency of bird strikes and how to remediate the problem.

• Discuss protocol for monitoring bird collisions

Jody met with David Bonter regarding similar Citizen Science protocols and was told each program is custom designed.

Candace reported that the Fatal Light Awareness Program FLAP network in Toronto and across the US, including NYC Audubon's Project Safe Flight, all strive to rescue injured birds as well as record and collect collision fatalities around buildings. Do we want to consider bird rescues as part of a future mission? Should have a wildlife rehabilitator on call for this project to deal with injured birds found during the study? Candace sent a list of the Safe Light programs to the CAC members earlier today along with links to several important references, including the FLAP volunteer training manual (see below).

We need to examine the field site before the troops are on the ground—do a cross section of buildings on campus, characteristics of buildings, landscape, and adjacent habitat.

As Hollie noted at our last meeting, twenty-three studies yielded the most information in Bird–building collisions in the United States: Estimates of annual mortality and species vulnerability.

The reference list is also an important resource.

Hollie recommended Lights out Columbus is an especially good paper.

If we begin this spring, we should start small and decide if there is a problem first. The best time to survey for collisions is usually a short time just after dusk (for hawks and other day travellers) and dawn (for songbirds and other night migrants). We could record collisions from the different building size classes we study and compare the abundance of birds in the area and the fatality rates of different species during migration.

Our goal would be to highlight problem buildings, construction materials, and landscaping and not trends in heights. (Height is taken in to consideration as we are looking at a cross section of campus buildings and their heights.)

Hollie suggested a protocol where the perimeter of each building is surveyed by three independent groups of people at the same time several times a week at sunrise/sunset. It was agreed that two data collection groups instead of three might suffice in this beginning survey.

Buildings in the collision studies (see Condor article) are classified by the number of floors:

1-3 floors = residences

4-11 floors = low rise

12+ floors = high rise

Test Routes Planning

Taylor has worked with standardized route surveys in specific blocks of time. Record start and stop times as a measure of effort. We could use to make electronic data forms for reporting the data.

Jody brought out a campus map to look at strategic blocks of buildings we might study. He suggested a North campus route with a mix of all three sized buildings because of the potential for problems.

A second mid-campus route would examine (number of floors are estimates):

Mann Library (problems with birds reported on north facing windows) 3-5 floors, low rise

Bradfield (Jody has seen dead birds there) 13 floors, high rise

Physical Science Building (Cindy and Karel Sedlacek reported numerous collisions) 6+ floors, low rise

Milstein Hall (potential problems due to glass building) 2-3 floors, residence

Bruckner (as a control, behind Fernow) 2 floors, residential


• Taylor will plan and time a test walk with and without other students to see if timing can be standardized. She will take GPS readings with her phone or lab equipment and photos to make a photographic description of the routes. She’ll time both routes and measure the time to survey each building.

• Jody will talk to Charles Dardia about receiving dead birds and what to include on labels and packaging. Can we borrow coolers from CBC members?

• Candace will contact the coordinators of NYC’s Project Safe Flight, Toronto's Fatal Light Awareness Program, and other programs to request summaries of their data, raw data sets, and their protocols.

Agenda items tabled until a future meeting:

• Discuss texting website and detection probability formulas—Hollie

• PowerPoint presentation for Facilities to be used as a training tool about existing resources. —Candace and Jody

• Cats vs. Birds discussion tabled until next meeting due to Linda Orkin’s absence due to illness. NOTE: Linda plans to contact Hollie via email about the issue.

Suggested Reading:

Toronto's Fatal Light Awareness Program volunteer training manual

Collision Course: The Hazards of Lighted Structures and Windows to Migrating Birds A special report for World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Fatal Light Awareness Program September 1996