Unintended Consequences: Bird-Friendly Yards and Bird Deaths
You won’t find Painted Buntings in Canada—Corey photographed these in Florida, where they are common feeder birds.
In a cruel twist of irony, the residential yards that are most attractive to birds—those with big, leafy trees and bird feeders—also appear to be at greater risk of becoming deathtraps, versus yards that lack these bird-friendly features.
These findings, published in The Condor, draw from citizen science efforts coordinated by scientists from the University of Alberta and Environment Canada. They recruited homeowners to walk the perimeters of their houses each day, looking for evidence of bird-window collisions. Considering that the average home experiences one to a few collisions each year, and given the sheer number of residences, the extrapolated effect on bird fatalities may be vast, perhaps dwarfing the number of birds killed by skyscrapers and large office buildings.
This presents a conundrum for bird lovers, the authors admit. Most would be loathe to rid their properties of features that bring birds into easy and clear view. The researchers don’t recommend getting rid of bird feeders or chopping down trees; rather, they suggest studying the effectiveness of residential window treatments that can deter collisions.