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Window collisions by migratory bird species: urban geographical patterns and habitat associations

Abstract

Bird collisions with buildings are an increasing concern and yet understanding the factors contributing to collisions at the species level remains largely unknown. This gap in our knowledge of species-specific strike patterns hinders the development of accurate estimates for the impact of death-by-collision on bird populations and impedes on our ability to minimize its effects. Our study offers the first examination of the impact of environmental variables on bird-window collisions at the species level. The Fatal Light Awareness Program Canada collected bird-window collision data in three distinct regions of Toronto, Canada during the migratory season of the years 2009 and 2010. Our results indicated that building percent window cover, exposed habitat cover, and cover of built structures significantly affect bird-window collisions. Multivariate analyses showed that the bird species that collided with buildings surrounded by a high level of urban greenery are species that typically occur in forested habitats and are foliage gleaners. In contrast, species that collided with buildings surrounded by a higher level of urbanization are species that typically occur in open woodland and are ground foragers. These results suggest that the composition of bird species colliding with buildings across various regions of the Greater Toronto Area is influenced by the local bird species community composition, by the configuration of the surrounding landscape, and by the levels of greenery around the buildings.

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Acknowledgments

This project would not have been possible without the help of members from the Fatal Light Awareness Program. We are particularly grateful to the volunteers of FLAP Canada who gathered the bird collision data used in this project. We would like to thank Robin Poot from Airborne Sensing Corporation and Bob Gaspirc from the Geospatial Competency Centre of the city of Toronto who provided the infrared aerial images. We are thankful for funding provided by an NSERC Discovery Grant to D.A. Jackson. We thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback.

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Correspondence to Marine Cusa.

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Fig. 1
figure 6

Regression plots for additional building façade variables and BWC. The relationship with Percent glass is significant with r2 = 0.36, p < 0.001 and rτ = 0.43, p < 0.001. Relationship with Façade length and Façade surface area are not significant with r2 = -0.012, p = 0.933 and rτ = 0.01, p = 0.882; and r2 = -0.01, p = 0.750 and rτ = -0.07, p = 0.378 respectively. (GIF 664 kb)

Fig. 2
figure 7

Regression plots for additional building variables and BWC. The relationship with Percent glass is significant with r2 = 0.70, p < 0.001 and rτ = 0.65, p < 0.001. Relationship with building height and building top surface area are not significant with r2 = 0.008, p = 0.279 and rτ = -0.10, p = 0.452; and r2 = 0.02, p = 0.245 and rτ = 0.14, p = 0.317 respectively. (GIF 600 kb)

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Cusa, M., Jackson, D.A. & Mesure, M. Window collisions by migratory bird species: urban geographical patterns and habitat associations. Urban Ecosyst 18, 1427–1446 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-015-0459-3

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Keywords

  • Migratory birds
  • Window collisions
  • Bird strike
  • Geographic distribution
  • Toronto