About this Collection

Welcome to the Bird-Friendly University Toolkit!

Every year nearly one billion birds are killed from colliding with glass in the U.S., and nearly half of these incidents occur at low-rise buildings like those found at many university campuses. Although some birds seem fine after a collision, most later die from head injuries. Birds struggle to see glass and fly towards the deceiving reflections of habitat like open sky and plants. Sometimes birds are also attracted closer to windows when lights are shining out from the inside. This is because birds are attracted to lights at night, which can also result in birds becoming disoriented and colliding with other lit structures. Fortunately, you can stop birds from hitting windows using inexpensive and attractive solutions. There are a growing number of universities implementing bird-friendly initiatives on campus too. Join the flock and bring your campus community together for bird conservation!

Do you hear or see birds colliding with windows or other glass at your university? 

Signs of collisions often include: 

  • a sudden "thud" sound as the bird strikes glass
  • powder marks of a bird silhouette left behind on your window
  • stunned or injured birds on the ground outside

Please note: you may not always see these signs, as bird strikes often go unnoticed. It is reasonable to assume that if you are aware of occasional collisions, then additional collisions are likely also occurring. 

At night, does the light from inside buildings shine out the windows and doors? Is the outside area on your campus lit up with landscaping, door, flagpole, or parking lot lights? 

Birds are attracted to artificial lights at night, which often increases their risks of collisions when they fly off their intended path towards the light leaking out our windows or shining off lit structures. You may see birds circling lights on top of buildings or other structures at night, which can lead to them becoming exhausted and disoriented. Universities can address this issue by turning off or dimming exterior lights at night and by closing curtains or blinds to prevent light leak from the inside out. If lights are needed, it can also be helpful to install lights with timers and/or motion sensors around campus. These actions also save energy, operation costs, and increase the health benefits for humans when we have less light pollution and restored starry night skies. It is especially important to decrease light pollution during peak spring and fall migration periods when most birds in North America travel at night between 10 PM and 4 AM. 

Are there any bird feeders or water sources within around 16 truck lengths (165 ft) of campus glass or windows?

  • Buildings with bird feeders or other attractants are more likely to cause bird collisions. 
  • Ask your university to prioritize bird-friendly glass retrofits in areas closest to bird attractants.
How can you help?
  • Reach out to your University leadership about starting bird-friendly campus initiatives (see template letter in the documents below).
  • Consider initiating a Bird-Glass Collision Monitoring Program with your peers to collect data and document collisions on campus!
  • If your university is willing to take steps towards a more bird-friendly campus, share the many options available for window, glass, and lighting retrofits so facilities managers and leadership know what solutions they can consider.
  • Spread the word about the threats our glass and lights at night pose to birds.
  • Share collision prevention methodslighting reduction, and communication tower collision reduction resources on social media.
  • Post a sign explaining to building visitors why they might notice building changes. 
  • Publish an article in the university newspaper about reducing bird collisions on campus and steps they can take. 
  • Post signs on campus to motivate students to close curtains in dorms and turn off lights to reduce bird collisions. 
  • Start an art contest encouraging peers to use washable tempura paint to make their windows visible to birds on campus (with permission from your University).
Spread Awareness and Share your Conservation Actions!

Inspire others on social media with #BirdSafeGlass, #BirdFriendly, #BringBirdsBack, #SafeSkies, and #LightsOutforBirds!

We can amplify bird conservation efforts by increasing awareness and encouraging action within our communities. Let’s make bird conservation a social norm!

Does your campus have a communication tower lit with non-flashing lights at night?

Check out the Bird-Friendly Communication Tower Toolkit!