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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 

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S05: Migratory wildlife collisions with manmade structures: monitoring - prevention - patterns from collision data [clear filter]
Monday, January 28

1:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) It Takes a Village: A Collaborative Approach to Bird Conservation
AUTHORS: Matthew B. Shumar, Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative

ABSTRACT: Many species of birds migrate at night, guided in part by starfields and lunar paths. However, artificial lighting is becoming increasingly abundant on the landscape. This source of pollution has the ability to disrupt migratory cues and cause substantial mortality; birds attracted to bright lighting often fatally collide with buildings, and it is estimated that between 365 and 988 million birds are killed by collisions each year in the United States. Collaborative conservation programs designed to address bird-building collisions have been successful in a number of cities across North America—including Toronto, Chicago, and New York—by combining elements of public outreach, conservation, and research in a campaign to reduce the dangers of nighttime lighting for migrating birds. With support from a wide range of partners, including state wildlife agencies, local government, universities, and non-profit conservation organizations, Ohio’s first “Lights Out” campaign was launched in Columbus in 2012. In 2013, we initiated a study to assess the relative influence of light intensity and building height on collision rates. Results strongly suggested that minimizing lighting on tall buildings would effectively reduce collision rates. In recent years, this partnership has expanded “Lights Out” into a statewide network, with focused efforts in Ohio’s major urban centers. To date, regional branches of Ohio Lights Out have been established in seven cities. The magnitude of this conservation issue is likely greater than currently understood (e.g., more than 2,100 dead and injured birds were salvaged by volunteers in Cleveland during 2017 alone), and each city presents unique social and political challenges. There is great potential for programs such as “Lights Out,” but success will ultimately depend on cooperation among wildlife agencies, academic institutions, wildlife rehabilitators, natural history museums, building owners, city officials, and the general public.

Monday January 28, 2019 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST

1:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) The Effect of Weather on Bird-building Collisions in Downtown Minneapolis
AUTHORS: Sirena Lao, Oklahoma State University; Abigail W. Anderson, University of Minnesota; Robert B. Blair, University of Minnesota; Joanna W. Eckles, Audubon Minnesota; Reed J. Turner, Audubon Minnesota; Scott R. Loss, Oklahoma State University

ABSTRACT: Collisions with buildings are a major source of human-caused bird mortality, especially for migratory species. Most bird-building collision studies have assessed building or landscape-related factors that correlate with mortality, such as glass area, the proximity of glass to vegetation, and the amount of surrounding greenspace. However, very little research has investigated factors causing temporal variation in bird-building collisions, and there is no published research that rigorously quantifies the influence of weather conditions on collision rates of migrating birds. During spring and fall migration, we hypothesize that more collisions occur under two scenarios: when conditions for migration are favorable (e.g., clear conditions, favorable tailwinds, and/or after the passage of a fall cold front), and hence more birds are moving; and when visibility is poor (e.g., fog, storms, or low cloud ceiling), causing migrating birds to potentially “fall out” in urban areas where they may be attracted to artificial light at night. To assess the effect of weather on collisions, we used counts from daily carcass surveys conducted during spring and fall migration of 2017 and 2018 at 21 buildings in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we compiled hourly weather data from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul weather station for each night from sunset to sunrise. We found that variables associated with favorable migration conditions, including wind direction and temperature, had the largest effect on collision mortality. We also found that weather conditions during certain times of night are especially important, and that collisions can be associated with weather conditions from one or two days prior to the night they occur. Understanding the effect of specific weather conditions on bird-building collisions will allow for the use of weather forecasts to better predict when major collision events will occur, and will therefore allow preemptive actions to be taken to reduce collision mortality.

Monday January 28, 2019 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST

2:00pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) Using Citizen Scientist Data to Elucidate Drivers of Urban Bird-window Collisions
AUTHORS: Jonathan Rice, Luke DeGroote, Matt Webb, Jake Slyder – Carnegie Museum of Natural History

ABSTRACT: Throughout the spring (April-May) and fall (Sept-Aug) migrations of 2014 – 2016, citizen scientists searched for birds that had collided with buildings in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, USA.  These volunteers spent 965 hours searching an area encompassing 217.7 ha comprised of skyscrapers, low commercial buildings, apartment buildings, and city parks.  Volunteers found 705 dead or injured birds, 218 in the spring and 487 in the fall. We delineated building sides for all buildings with collisions (n=278), and for randomly selected buildings without collisions (n=65).  We quantified physical characteristics of the building and adjacent land cover using GIS and field visits (presences and extent of overhangs, percentage of windows, reflectivity of windows, rugosity, and presence of landscaping).  Bird-window collisions were more frequent at larger, structurally complex buildings with nearby vegetative cover.  Our results demonstrate that not all buildings are equally dangerous for birds.  Furthermore, future bird-window collisions could be mitigated if architects and urban planners design buildings with less glass, fewer alcoves, and less nearby vegetation.

Monday January 28, 2019 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST

2:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) Lights out Cleveland: Methodology and Collision Patterns
AUTHORS: Andrew W. Jones, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Tim Jasinski, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center; Courtney L. Brennan, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Sylvie F. Crowell, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Gary Fowler, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center; Laura Gooch, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Moira Meehan, Ohio Wesleyan University; Stephanie Secic, Ohio State University

ABSTRACT: In 2017, we initiated a collaboration among six organizations to monitor bird-building collisions in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Field monitoring is carried out entirely by volunteers, starting at dawn on every day in spring and fall migration. Social media has been a key tool to recruit new volunteers as well as to coordinate daily monitoring schedules. During daily surveys, injured birds are placed in paper bags and then transported to Lake Erie Nature & Science Center for rehabilitation. Most injuries are related to cranial swelling. We report several approaches that have been successful in rehabilitating species that do not typically recover well in captivity, including American Woodcock. Birds are then banded before release. Birds that are found dead, or die during rehabilitation, are frozen and later prepared as museum research specimens at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In Fall 2017, over 1,800 collisions were detected in downtown Cleveland. Over 1,200 of these collisions were fatal. We reviewed collision data, comparing collision sites to the adjacent landscape, finding that building facades that face large green spaces are responsible for significantly larger numbers of collisions. We compared collision rates, per species, to local abundances from citizen science efforts, finding that collision rates are not proportional to abundance.

Monday January 28, 2019 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST

2:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) Opening the Black Box of Post Bird-window Collision Survival and Behavior with New Technology, Citizen Scientists, and Diverse Collaborations
AUTHORS: Lucas W. DeGroote, Jonathan Rice – Carnegie Museum of Natural History

ABSTRACT: It is often asserted that “half” or “many” birds that hit windows and live to fly away will later die of internal injuries.  Yet our knowledge of these injuries is limited to a small number of birds that were sacrificed to compare their injuries to birds that did not survive a window collision.  Only recently are we able to track small post-collision migrants over large distances thanks to a collaborative array of automated receiving stations (Motus Wildlife Tracking System) that are able to detect VHF transmitters operating on the same frequency (i.e. nanotags).  We utilized the Motus WTS and nanotags to study the long-term effects of bird-window collision on 29 migrant landbirds found by citizen science volunteers in Pittsburgh and Cleveland the spring of 2017.  We will compare their survival and migratory behavior to 21 birds captured via mist nets at Presque Isle Bird Observatory (NW PA) and Powdermill Avian Research Center (SW PA). In addition, we will utilize data collected by rehabilitators to quantify short term survival of birds found by citizen scientists.  With this data we will gain insight not only on the long-term effects of bird-window collisions on individuals but also population level consequences that as of yet have been unquantified through traditional citizen science based collision monitoring programs.

Monday January 28, 2019 2:40pm - 3:00pm EST

3:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) Forty Years of Bird-building Collisions Shed Light on the Evolutionary Dynamics of Bird Migration in a Rapidly Changing World
AUTHORS: Benjamin Winger, University of Michigan; Brian Weeks, University of Michigan; David Willard, The Field Museum

ABSTRACT: Global warming is hypothesized to cause reductions in animal body size. Migratory birds are particularly vulnerable to change because they breed at high latitudes where temperatures are changing most rapidly, their morphologies are constrained by the demands of migration, and they are dependent on fluctuating seasonal resources and climatic conditions throughout their annual cycles. We analyzed morphological change for 52 species of migratory birds from 1978-2016, using measurements of 70,000 specimens that died from building collisions during migratory passage through Chicago, IL. Across species, we found a consistent decline in body size and consistent increase in wing length. Body size declines are linked to increasing summer temperatures on the breeding grounds: years with high summer temperature yielded birds with smaller body size. Increases in wing length are driven by selection during the migratory period, which we hypothesize is due to compensatory selection for efficient flight to maintain migratory journeys in the face of shrinking body size. The species composition of the Chicago collision data we analyzed also yielded insights into the relevance of avian social behavior for understanding the negative impacts of artificial light on birds during nocturnal migration.

Monday January 28, 2019 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST

3:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) “Big Data” Approach to Understanding Wildlife Collision Risk at Wind Farms
AUTHORS: Ryan Butryn, Taber Allison – American Wind Wildlife Institute

ABSTRACT: The American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) has developed a database of post-construction fatality monitoring data containing hundreds of studies, many of which have been unavailable for analysis.  We present the results from our first analysis of more than 200 studies at 140 projects from across the U.S.  The size of our data set enables us to evaluate fatality rates and incident data on a biologically relevant regional scale (e.g., avian migration flyways, bird conservation regions). Bird and bat fatalities have been observed at almost all wind facilities; however, the species composition and number of fatalities varies greatly among these facilities. Our results show substantial differences in regional variation in bird and bat fatality estimates indicating different underlying patterns affecting collision risk in these two groups.  We also found bird and bat species assemblages detected by post construction surveys also varied substantially by region.  We will provide examples of how increased data availability provided by AWWI can help reduce uncertainties in risk and impact assessment and inform focused and effective fatality reduction measures.  

Monday January 28, 2019 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST

4:00pm EST

(CANCELLED) (SYMPOSIA-05) Is Mortality Data Proprietary? Accessing Bird and Bat Collision Data from Wind Projects
AUTHORS: Megan Seymour, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: Bird and bat collisions at wind turbines are well documented and of concern to wildlife management agencies and the public. Data is typically collected by consultants funded by the wind project owner, and is often deemed to be proprietary even though it is collected under state or federal collection permits. This presentation will discuss the how some mortality data can be accessed, what state and federal agencies can share, and what the concerns are with making data public. When collision data is not shared, our ability to conserve birds and bats proactively is limited, however given available information we can infer certain mortality patterns and risk factors. These, along with management implications will be discussed.

Monday January 28, 2019 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST

4:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-05) Regulation of Single Turbines and Small-Scale Wind Facilities in Ohio
AUTHORS: Donald Bauman, Ken Mauer, Kimberly Kaufman – Black Swamp Bird Observatory

ABSTRACT: Current Ohio law is gravely deficient in providing any review of the biological resource impacts caused by the construction of single commercial-size wind turbines or small-scale multi-turbine wind farms.  This oversight is especially problematic when such turbines are constructed in environmentally sensitive areas, such as the southern shore of Lake Erie and the major migratory flyways associated with the Lake.  As pressure for renewable energy increases it is likely that exploitation of this large regulatory deficiency will increasingly be utilized to the detriment of Ohio’s public trust biological resources.  As such projects are often not publicized in advance of construction and it is very difficult to raise concerns about them in a meaningful way, a systematic means of controlling such wind turbine projects appeared to be necessary.  Accordingly, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and its Conservation Committee have developed proposed legislation which would provide a mandatory, scientifically-based review process to be implemented in defined geographic areas for construction of commercial-size wind turbines falling below the current 5MW Ohio Power Siting Board review threshold.  Favorable reaction to the proposal has been received from interested legislators and key Ohio government agencies.

Monday January 28, 2019 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST

4:40pm EST