Magnitude and correlates of bird collisions at glass bus shelters in an urban landscape

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Abstract

Wildlife residing in urban landscapes face many human-related threats to their survival. For birds, collision with glass on manmade structures has been identified as a major hazard, causing hundreds of millions of avian fatalities in North America every year. Although research has investigated factors associated with bird-glass collision mortality at buildings, no prior studies have focused on bird fatalities at glass-walled bus shelters. Our objectives in this study were to describe the magnitude of bird-bus shelter collisions in the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma and assess potential predictors of collision risk, including characteristics of shelters (glass area) and surrounding land cover (e.g., vegetative features). We surveyed for bird carcasses and indirect collision evidence at 18 bus shelters over a five-month period. Linear regression and model selection results revealed that the amount of glass on shelters and the area of lawn within 50 m of shelters were both positively related to fatal bird collisions; glass area was also positively associated with observations of collision evidence on glass surfaces. After accounting for scavenger removal of carcasses, we estimate that a minimum of 34 birds are killed each year between May and September by collision with the 36 bus shelters in the city of Stillwater. While our study provides an initial look at bird fatalities at bus shelters, additional research is needed to generate a large-scale estimate of collision mortality and to assess species composition of fatalities at a national scale. Designing new bus shelters to include less glass and retrofitting existing shelters to increase visibility of glass to birds will likely reduce fatal bird collisions at bus shelters and thus reduce the cumulative magnitude of anthropogenic impacts to birds in cities.

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Barton, C. M., Riding, C. S., & Loss, S. R. (2017). Magnitude and correlates of bird collisions at glass bus shelters in an urban landscape. PLoS ONE, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178667

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