Project Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) at Loyola picks up dead birds that hit windows around campus during their migration periods. Their website catalogs the birds and where they are found. Since 2012, 1,354 birds have been collected by SOAR with 431 being found at the south entrance of the Damen Student Center, according …
Loyola Improvements Decrease Number of Birds Killed by Window Collisions
Thousands of birds have flown into windows and died at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus due to mistaking windows for sky. Loyola has taken steps to protect some of these species.
Chicago ranks first in the highest rate of bird fatalities from window collisions due to its direct alignment with birds’ migratory paths. Chicago is a stop on their migratory journeys within the Mississippi Flyway from Canada to Central and South America. Birds fly over the Great Lakes to keep their bodies cool, according to Stephen Mitten, senior lecturer in the SES and leader of Project SOAR.
LSC is home to many species of birds such as robins and mergansers who stop here during their twice annual migration, according to Mitten.
Project Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) at Loyola picks up dead birds that hit windows around campus during their migration periods. Their website catalogs the birds and where they are found. Since 2012, 1,354 birds have been collected by SOAR with 431 being found at the south entrance of the Damen Student Center, according to the website.
SOAR has collected 101 different species of birds, according to their website.
SOAR fought to have a film made of a pattern of small dots that goes on windows so the birds can see the windows to prevent birds from flying, applied to major LSC buildings.
In 2013 the blinds on the Information Commons were automated to come down when migratory birds were most active according to SOAR’s website. In 2016, a new Rambler decal went up on the Norville Intercollegiate Center on the east side to cover most of the glass which decreased the number of dead birds found, according to SOAR’s website.
“Great efforts have been done to do those major problem windows and buildings,” Mitten said.
Carly Fournier, a graduate student of environmental science and sustainability at Loyola, said Loyola is green hushing, fixing the problems quietly, to stop the complaints about the birds hitting the windows.
Fournier got involved with Project SOAR after they took an undergraduate class under Mitten in which searching for birds at sunrise during migratory periods was a class requirement. They have been involved ever since.
“I literally stood at Damen south entrance and watched as birds flew 40 miles an hour into that glass and watched them twitch as they died,” Fournier said. “This is my life’s work now.”
While the bigger glass buildings have had film put up, the problem still persists, according to Fournier.
Mary Dinsmore, lecturer in the SES, strongly advises students and staff not to feed or go near the animals on campus, especially the foxes.
“Any time that a human is going to engage in wildlife, it’s going to alter the way in which they naturally do their biological processes and change the way they hunt,” Dinsmore said.
Reuben Keller is an associate professor in the School of Environmental Sustainability.
“We used to get a lot of dead migrating birds looking for somewhere to rest during the day. They don’t perceive the glass and smash into it and kill themselves,” Keller said.
There is a pair of peregrine falcons that have been trying unsuccessfully to build a nest at the top of Mundelein Center, according to Keller. He said they’ve reached out to facilities to build an artificial nest, however, an issue is Mundelein is a historic building that is not allowed to have holes drilled in order to anchor the nest.
Featured image by Hunter Minne