AKRON, Ohio – Shane Good and the Akron Zoo are on a mission to save the North American songbird.
“Since the 1970s, our bird populations have declined by about 25%,” said Good, the zoo’s senior director of animal care. “That’s a quarter of all birds in North America that are lost.”
Birds are an indicator species, meaning they reflect the state of the environment around them.
“We’re also seeing declines in insect populations, native plants,” he said. “This is indicative of the issues we are seeing in our community and local ecosystem.”
Hitting windows is one of the main human causes of bird mortality.
“We lose a billion birds a year to window strikes,” Good said.
There are simple ways to prevent birds from flying into windows.
“Window treatments are a good thing,” he said. “They can be attractive, they can be done in any design.
Twelve years ago, the zoo began monitoring glass on its property to determine what might be a problem area where birds were flying into windows, and in 2018 they began monitoring windows in the area. Akron.
“What we did to solve the problem was put in place these bird movie apps,” he said. “We eliminated a problem by almost 100%, so it’s very effective.”
Research shows that bright city lights on tall buildings or lights directed skyward disorient migrating birds.
“It can cause two problems,” Good said. “One: they’re disoriented whether they’re flying into the building, or two: they’re flying in circles and getting exhausted and falling to the ground.”
He said there is an easy solution to this problem that can help save the birds.
“It could be turning off the lights, dimming the lights, covering the windows with blinds to prevent those windows from banging,” he said.
The zoo works with Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative with the aim of encouraging more companies to participate in saving birds.
“It’s a local issue, so tackling something that’s happening in our own backyard,” he said. “It’s something that has grown a lot.”