Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a flagship urban wildlife refuge in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Being situated in an urban area comes with additional challenges that are present with human development. One of those being bird strikes on windows. An issue that even buildings are not immune from.
What is a Bird Strike?
A bird strike is when a bird makes a collision with glass or a reflective hard surface at full speed. Collisions with windows often result in injury or death to birds that mistake the window as an open area to fly through. Approximately 1 billion birds die in North America from window collisions each year, according to a 2014 study.
Bird Strikes at Minnesota Valley NWR
At Minnesota Valley NWR we operate two visitor centers in the Twin Cities metro communities of Bloomington and Carver, Minnesota. While both sites provide different experiences for our visitors, there was one common issue – repeated bird strikes throughout the year.
Through data collection and consultation with an independent architectural firm, we identified the primary factors for these collisions: reflective glass windows, location and size of the building and several stretches of windows specific to the visitor center in Bloomington..
Creating Bird-safe Buildings
To prevent future bird strikes, we added a window treatment on the windows of the Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center in Carver, MN. To preserve the architectural character of the building and visibility to the outdoors, the Refuge selected Feather Friendly window markers for all exterior windows. In 2020, the material was installed at the Rapids Lake visitor center in partnership with the Minnesota Valley Trust.
Since the installation of the Feather Friendly material, there have been no documented bird strikes at Rapids Lake. The material has been so effective at reducing bird strikes that birds have begun nesting along the eaves of the building without window-caused injury or mortality. Due to the overwhelming success of this project and the capacity of this material to meet the goal allowing visitors to view out the windows while reducing bird strikes, we determined that this was the ideal material for the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center.
In August of 2022, we began the installation of bird strike film at the Bloomington Education and Visitor center!
As an urban refuge, we take pride in not only leading the way in conversation in the urban setting but also being an example in the community and we encourage our partners and neighbors to join in. We can’t wait for you to come and see firsthand how we are changing conservation every day through innovation here at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.