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PARC Research

Flight Tunnel at Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC)

Flight tunnel for bird strike studyBird Window Strike Avoidance

Because birds can’t tell reflections from trees, plants, and sky, millions of our winged friends die every year flying into windows.  Often injured birds fly off to die elsewhere or are scavenged by neighborhood cats, raccoons, and crows, so that your windows may be causing more bird injuries and deaths than you realize.

Not all windows are equally dangerous to birds.  Factors involved include a window’s reflective qualities and its position in relation to bird activity near your home or building.  And, of course, collisions are more frequent during spring and fall migration periods.

Flight Tunnel Project

In partnership with the American Bird Conservancy, PARC is studying bird behavior in a specially built flight tunnel.  Select birds captured in our bird banding program spend a few extra minutes at PARC helping us to understand how birds interact with various commercially available window treatments.

Flight tunnel in useAs with all efforts at PARC, the well being of every bird is our top priority at all times, and no birds are injured in these research efforts.  Our flight tunnel is designed such that each bird is placed through a small opening in one end of a long tunnel, with the other end apparently open, but divided between two different window treatments.

As the bird flies toward the perceived exit, the window it is able to see will be avoided and it will attempt to exit through the other pane.  Before reaching either window, the bird is captured in a safety net and released by the tunnel operator.  The tunnel can be rotated to maintain lighting consistency, configured to present a perception of open sky or a tree line scene, and a recording apparatus monitors conditions of ambient light. 

A variety of manufacturers have contributed a large selection of commercially available window treatments, and each treatment will undergo at least 90 live trials to gather data on its effectiveness.

Built in 2009, the flight tunnel was first tested in the spring of 2010, with the first series of trials run in the summer of 2010.  It is one of only two of its kind, with the first built in Austria to assist in understanding bird strikes against transparent highway barriers.

Quick and Affordable Home Window Treatments

Home owners can take simply and affordable action to help reduce and prevent bird collisions with windows.  From applying duct tape and Tempera pain to shielding you windows with special netting, there are things you can do right now to prevent bird strikes.

For some easy to apply and affordable options in preparing your windows for a more bird friendly home, please download our American Bird Conservancy flyer.  (Adobe Reader Required)

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