When most scientists that were not aware of those frightening words “Three billion birds gone in the last half century,” horror struck those hearts. It was known that window strikes, cats, loss of habitat, and several other reasons were contributing factors. Those who spent decades and lifetimes at work upon the topic worked tirelessly to make those who could do something about it aware, and the plea was out to help to save one segment of our pollinators. It was and still is not an easy road.
A Sarkis Acopian professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Daniel Klem Jr., devoted 50 years and counting to his life’s work. His important research has influenced the design of buildings, one of which was the Niagara Falls State Park Observation Tower. He was the design consultant. Dr. Klem’s early work was to lead and co-author the scientific segment of the Birds of Armenia Project to promote an environmental ethic and land preservation with bird study in the Republic of Armenia.
Most of Klem’s research revolves about experiments and detailed observations to evaluate bird and window collision prototype deterrents, writing papers involving both historic and the latest means to save birds from our windows, and serving as technical consultant to worldwide local, regional, and federal governments, national an international conservation organizations, and glass manufacturers developing bird safe sheet glass.
To Professor Klem’s credit are many important papers written on the topic as well as his book “Solid Air: Invisible Killer Saving Billions of Birds from Windows.”
The book was written in easy-to-understand language for everyone to read, not a scientific paper designed to provide proof on the talking point. It begins with a beautiful topical fable before it is broken down into the simple reasons of why birds strike glass.
We are taken into the gravity of the problem, and the investigation was launched into cause and effect. Some of the most frequent window strike victims were used to determine the width and breadth of problem, and experiments were conducted outdoors and in the field. There are a shocking 267 species that strike windows.
Reasons are given on what happens when birds hit windows, how few survive, recuperation, and the injuries that they receive. Birds also provide billions of dollars of worth in their services — they provide invaluable pest control services, pollination and seed dispersal, consuming disease insect and scavenging the dead, seabird guano for high-quality fertilizer, and indicators for environmental globally health.
It is up to all of us to try to help solve the problem for our beautiful winged jewels that provide so little for free. It is true that some of the problems have been solved in order to help our birds thrive again, and each of us truly wants to help what is left of our food pollinators.
We learn what each citizen can do as homeowners and advocates for the cause, as it teaches us about the threat, impact, prevention and cost, species ly, and more.
My partial interview follows with Daniel Klem.
HIRT: “Why did you choose the toughest topic in the world of ornithology to focus on?”
KLEM: “The topic was my doctoral dissertation subject at Southern Illinois University of Carbonle from 1974 to 1979. After novelda this research, because of the, important, and revealing results I expected our best scientific journals to be eager to publish the results. That did not happen, and it took 10 years to convince the scientific community as this topic is worthy of study. Things have changed since those days, especially over the last five years when young talented scientists have been attracted to the topic and have lent Their validating study results to my fundamental and foundational findings about this invisible, indiscriminate, and devastating human-associated worldwide threat to bird life.”
HIRT: “Out of three billion birds that were lost over the past half century, since it was manmade entities that caused their deaths, it is only fitting that man rescues them. Are cell towers as hard on songbirds due to their weightlessness or is the size of raptors a bigger culprit?”
KLEM: “Bird victims of human-associated responsible for mortality are always innocent, unintended, and unwanted. We humans caused the lethal problems that birds face and I remind all who will listen that we are and required to fix all of these mortality causes to be responsible stewards of this planet in which life is interdependent and on which we all depend.
“Cell towers, like urban lighting, have their devastating collision effects on songbirds not because of their light weight but because they just do not see the towers or even worse birds, the wires that support them under inclement weather conditions. On clear nights typically fly Safely high enough over these communication towers and urban lighting. Raptors may be disproportionally killed at wind turbines, and this may have a disproportionate effect on their respective population health. Raptors are striking windows, but more of select vulnerable species, like eagles, may be taken striking wind turbines, and the lower population sizes of these raptors may cause greater harm to them than the harm more numerous vireos, warblers, and sparrows are losing from their populations from striking windows.
And to highlight the insidious threat of windows, domestic cats that like almost all predators take the unfit members of prey populations, windows take the strongest as well as the weakest; windows are an indiscriminate killer, and as such is an additive rather than A compensatory mortality factor that limits the abilities of population to recover their losses from one year to the next. , this invisible window threat is not a complicated issue like climate change. We know how to solve this problem for birds, and we need the will and action to do so.”
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and professional photographer living in Stillwater.