International Migratory Bird Day 2005

Collisions: Clear the Way for Birds!

IMBD 2005 Art
Art copyright David Sibley

In the IMBD 2005 artwork, David Sibley portrays the "Collisions" theme using an illusion of depth and layers. In the foreground is a selection of birds including Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red Phalarope, and Swainson's Thrush. These birds are mirrored in a plate glass window, a potential collision hazard. Reflected at a distance in this same window are Snow Geese, Blue-winged Teal and a Golden Eagle in flight through a crowded skyline of additional aerial obstacles, including buildings, communication and wind turbine towers, wires, and a plane. A complex piece of art for a complex issue!

Clear the Way for Birds!
Flight is a magnificent means of transportation, allowing bats, insects, birds and even humans to travel great distances. For many birds, however, a journey across the skies may be a veritable obstacle course of human-related hazards. International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is an opportunity to examine the obstacles birds may encounter in flight and explore the many ways we may minimize their impacts.

The towers erected for our cell phones and pagers, the lines that bring us power, our vehicles, the windows on homes and office buildings, and even sources of renewable energy, such as wind turbines, create obstacles for birds in flight. Collisions with these obstacles may cause the death of one bird or tens of thousands of birds in a single incident. Biologists estimate the combined death toll from aerial collisions may exceed 700 million birds each year and affects all types, from ducks, gulls, plovers, owls, and hawks, to woodpeckers, hummingbirds, warblers, sparrows, and finches.

The problem is urgent, and biologists, conservation organizations, communities and individuals are joining forces with industry representatives to unravel the causes of bird collisions and to explore ways of making a birdís journey safer. Individual participation in these efforts can have significant results. Small changes at home, involvement at work, and active contribution to your community can make a world of difference to bird conservation.

Learn More
The greatest challenge in reducing bird collisions is finding ways to alter the design and use of structures, equipment and vehicles while still having them serve their purpose. Also, in some cases, it's not quite clear why or under what conditions the collisions occur. Fortunately, studies are under way to develop solutions. Read up on the problems...and checking out these links:

Glass and Lights:
Fatal Light Awareness Program
NYC's Project Safe Flight
Lights Out Chicago

Power Lines:
Avian Power Line Interaction Committee

Communication Towers:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds' "Avian Collisions at Communication Towers"

Vehicles (airplanes):
International Bird Strike Committee

Wind Turbines:
National Wind Coordinating Committee

Teach Others
The following is a variety of ideas for teaching about bird collisions.

  • Order the IMBD 2005 theme magazine "Collisions" in bulk and distribute to students or visitors.
  • Research and write an article about local collision issues for local birds in a member newsletter.
  • Invite a local wildlife rehabilitator to speak at a meeting or public event. Ask them particularly to share stories of birds injured by collisions -- the results and what might be done to prevent such injuries.
  • Set up one of the following activities in a classroom or at an event for young people --

    - "The Migration Game" described in Bridges to Birding, a program guide available from the IMBD On-line Store

    -"Hidden Hazards" or "Bird Hurdles" described in Flying WILD: An Educator's Guide to Celebrating Birds, also available from the IMBD On-line Store

  • NEW! "Watch Out for Windows: An Interactive Display for Teaching about Bird Collisons with Windows" Download PDF

  • NEW! "Build A Better Tower: An Game for Teaching about Bird Collisons with Towers" Download PDF
    Also, download images of A Tall, Guyed Tower and A Self-Supported Tower

For questions about this page, contact Jennifer Wheeler at


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Revised March 13, 2005