Baltimore Sun

UV reflectors seem to be cutting fatal bird strikes

The accumulation or avian carcasses this fall on The Baltimore Sun's pedestrian bridge over Centre Street seems to be way down.

In years past, as many as a dozen birds would die each autumn in collisions with the bridge's glass walls. Their feathery bodies would lie on the ledges for months until maintenance personnel could get out there to scoop them up. It made for a pretty ghastly stroll into work from the parking garage each morning

Some of the birds would not die right away, and we would watch as the stunned and broken songbirds slowly expired. It's likely more fell to the street and never got counted. Others may have been temporarily stunned, and eventually flew off.


Apparently, the critters simply cannot see the glass. They see the bridge and its (interior) railings as a place to rest. Or, perhaps they see The Sun's grove of ginkgo trees through the glass and try to fly through for a rest in the branches.

When the problem was brought to The Sun's managers, they responded by purchasing ultraviolet-reflective decals. When applied to the glass, the manufacturers said, the stickers would alert the birds to the presence of the glass, and they would veer away.

So far, so good. Most of last year's fatal collisions occurred in October, during the fall migrations. By the end of that month, we were approaching 10, if I recall correctly. This year, through the first week of November, we can count only three fatal collisions. One actually occurred late in the summer - a white dove or pigeon with a blue band. A second - a sapsucker (photo), I suspect - died early in the autumn. A sparrow fell late in October.


But, so far at least, that's it. It seems as though the application of the UV decals has saved a few of the millions of birds that die in collisions with buildings each year. Our thanks to The Sun managers and maintenance employees who made it happen.

I'm told the Wisconsin Humane Society is selling window decals. You can even build your place with bird-safe glass, if you can afford it.

(SUN PHOTOS: Frank Roylance)