Bird-Friendly Communities

BirdSafe Research

We collected over 1500 individual birds from just a handful of monitored buildings

Project BirdSafe began in 2007 and was to set up as a volunteer-led program to monitor bird-window collisions at building in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Rochester. 

Watch a MN DNR video on Bird Safe (2009)

Results

Over the years, BirdSafe volunteers picked up birds that represented over 100 species. The five most common species found were:

  1. White-throated sparrow
  2. Nashville warbler
  3. Ovenbird
  4. Tennessee warbler
  5. Dark-eyed junco

Rare Species

Several birds were found that are rare in our area including a Townsend’s Solitaire, Connecticut Warbler and Carolina Wren. Most of the birds we found were migratory. About half were warblers, and we found a Golden-winged Warbler and an Orchard Oriole as part of the surveys. In Rochester, volunteers found a Wilson’s Phalarope.

Survival Rate

Fortunately, a small percentage of birds are found alive, but about 90% of the birds that struck windows are found dead. These birds still had great value to science. They went to the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History where they were preserved as a spread wing and tissue sample (good for DNA extraction, pesticide analysis, etc.). Upon dissection, we determined each bird’s sex, age, molt status, fat condition and what it had been eating. In this way, each bird strike was documented and the birds helped us learn more about bird-window strikes.

Conclusions

The birds that hit buildings are not the most common birds in our area. Many abundant birds like the Yellow-rumped Warbler made up a very small percentage of our findings. We also know that not all buildings pose an equal threat to birds. 

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