Feather Friendly Film Gets Put to Test at Duke University

February 17th, 2016 by Casey Flores

Film that stops birds from colliding into glass is being put to the test in a new Duke University student-led study. Ph.D. student Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, who studies conservation biology, wanted to see if she could do something to lessen the bird fatalities at one of the university’s most accident-prone buildings, the Fitzpatrick Center.

This Common Yellowthroat bird was found near the Fitzpatrick Center on Duke's campus.

This Common Yellowthroat bird was found near the Fitzpatrick Center on Duke’s campus.

“We’ve been informally documenting collisions since 2012,” she says. “A lot of the birds were from Fitzpatrick. Whenever I would walk by the building, I would oftentimes find dead birds.”

She says during migration time, which happens in the fall then again in spring, they would find as many as eight in one day.

“One building was killing 2/3 of the birds on our campus,” she says, which is mostly explained by the amount of glass on the building. “We also had a building that was 98 percent glass but wasn’t killing birds because it had a pattern.”

So Ocampo-Peñuela wanted to put patterns to the test. By the end of summer 2015, workers had installed Feather Friendly film (produced by Toronto-based Convenience Group) to the building. The product is applied externally and features dot patterns that birds can recognize but leaves 98 percent of the glass clear.

Ocampo

Ocampo-Peñuela says the Feather Friendly film has reduced the number of bird collisions. Photo: Ocampo-Peñuela et al. (2016), PeerJ, DOI 10.7717/peerj.1652

While she has yet to publish any post-film data (she’s waiting to test again during the springtime), Ocampo-Peñuela says the study shows improvements.

“I can tell you that [collisions] were reduced significantly,” she explains. As a result, other universities have reached out to her hoping to mimic her solution.

People in the building don’t mind the dots on their windows. “It’s more disturbing to them to find birds outside their offices so often so people have been really happy,” she explains.

The full report so far can be found here.

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