The installation of glass curtain walls in tall buildings, with abundant light during the day and bright lights at night, and greenery behind the glass windows, has fulfilled mankind's imagination of urban life but has also caused hundreds of millions of birds to crash into the glass and die every year, a phenomenon referred to as "bird collision" by the academic community.

A team from Duke Kunshan University completed the first systematic bird collision survey in China and found that a small "micro-modification" of the building can help birds "see" the glass and avoid such tragedies.

With the concept of biodiversity conservation gaining popularity, the theory of "bird collision prevention" is gradually becoming a reality. On the eve of International Biodiversity Day, the reporter visited a "bird-proof" building to understand the story, experience, and challenges in the process of implementing this survey and got a glimpse of a compassionate approach to building a city for wild animals.

Finding harmony between humans and animals may become the new direction of urban development in the future.

In daily life, people generally find it hard to witness birds crashing into their own glass. However, the bird collision phenomenon is widespread. After a bird collides with a building, it often falls on the periphery or other areas that people do not frequently visit, making bird collisions seem distant.

Currently, most research on bird collisions is focused on North America, where it is estimated that 16 to 42 million individual birds die each year from bird collisions in Canada, while the number reaches a staggering 365 million to 988 million in the United States.

During her studies at Duke University in the U.S., Binbin Li flung herself into data collection on bird collisions, which increased her awareness of the issue. Upon her return to teach at Duke Kunshan University in 2017, she also encountered cases of birds dying from head-on collisions with glass.

"It turns out that bird collisions don't just happen in North America, they happen all around," she said. She embarked on bird collision research and became one of the founders of the National Bird Collision Prevention Action Network.

The survey reveals that bird collisions with buildings tend to occur under office buildings with glass curtain walls and are concentrated in densely populated urban areas. Migrating birds are at higher risk of collisions than resident birds, and collisions are frequently recorded.

Bird collisions generally occur for two reasons: transparent glass can lead birds to mistakenly think they can pass through, and glass reflections of the sky, water, and greenery can deceive birds into believing the reflections are real, causing them to collide head-on.

The expert explained that when birds are in flight, they don't always look forward or use their sharpest lateral vision to observe the path ahead. They often turn their heads or even look back to watch out for predators or search for prey, which prevents them from spotting obstacles ahead of time.

Glass has been used in buildings for many years, but it is still relatively new to birds and many animals. Wherever glass is present, the risk of bird collisions exists, and glass parapets and countless glass facades pose potential threats to birds.

Constructing and renovating bird collision-proof buildings is not inherently complicated; the biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of awareness among people about bird collisions.

In fact, every individual can make a small contribution to preventing bird collisions and avoiding this tragedy. For example, turning off lights in the office after work, drawing curtains when not at home, moving greenery away from glass windows, installing screens on the outside of glass, or applying patterns or decals of raptors can serve as reminders to birds to keep away from the buildings.

These measures can significantly reduce the probability of bird collisions.

By raising awareness about bird collisions and promoting simple modifications that make buildings more bird-friendly, we can mitigate the impact on bird populations. It is essential to educate the public about the importance of bird conservation and the role each individual can play in reducing bird collisions.

Encouraging behaviors such as turning off lights, using window treatments, and implementing visual deterrents can make a significant difference in protecting our avian friends.

Moreover, architects and urban planners can incorporate bird collision prevention measures into building designs from the outset. This can include elements such as patterned glass, specialized coatings, or external structures that break up reflections and provide visual cues to birds.

By integrating these measures into the construction process, we can minimize the risk of bird collisions and create safer urban environments for both humans and wildlife.

Efforts to address bird collisions are not only about protecting bird populations but also about fostering a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. The well-being of our urban ecosystems depends on our ability to consider the needs of all inhabitants, including our feathered friends.

As we continue to develop and expand our cities, it is crucial to prioritize sustainable and wildlife-friendly practices that preserve biodiversity and promote a balanced urban environment.

The issue of bird collisions with glass buildings is a pressing concern for both environmental conservation and urban development. By raising awareness, implementing simple modifications, and incorporating bird-friendly designs, we can reduce the number of bird collisions and create cities that embrace and respect the diverse wildlife that coexists within them.

Building a city that is safe and welcoming for all, including our avian neighbors, is a testament to our commitment to environmental stewardship and a sustainable future.