Senior zoology student Brooke Goodman is working toward saving the lives of birds on the SUNY Oswego campus by adding window stickers to buildings around the large lakeside campus and other activities to divert feathered friends from them.

Like any place with many buildings and windows, a college campus can offer views that might confuse birds, especially if they are not familiar with the landscape.

“Around 1 billion birds hit windows every year and die in America, so that includes the windows on our own campus,” Goodman said. Goodman's research both aims to minimize that number and gather data.

In 2020, there was a very intense migration day in New York City that showed a lot of bird strike deaths. When Goodman heard about this, she was inspired to look into how the campus was affecting bird strike deaths.

Goodman has worked with Rice Creek Field Station and the Office of Sustainability to look into ways to prevent bird strike deaths on campus. One common way to prevent these deaths are window stickers.

The work involves installing many "feather-friendly window stickers, which are applied to the outside of the window and there are dots that are around two inches apart on each side and they are just spaced out enough so that birds can tell it is a solid surface,” Goodman said. 

While apparent outside, the dots are virtually invisible to people on the inside of the windows.

“I was able to get some window stickers up at Rice Creek on the side that has the feeder,” Goodman said. “We used the feather friendly stickers over there and I would say they deter like 75 to 80 percent of strikes.”

Another product is called a paracord bird saver, small parachute strands hanging veritcally, which Goodman believes are the most effective way to prevent bird strikes. Goodman and the university's Facilities Services and Sustainability offices recently agreed to add one brand of this product, Acopian BirdSavers, on the windows facing out of the spacious Marano Campus Center food and activities court this spring.

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SUNY Oswego falls on the Atlantic Flyway, which is a common migration route for many species of songbirds, Goodman said. 

“Our peak strike times are spring and fall migration, and obviously there is a little bit of bias here because that’s when we are on campus to monitor,” Goodman said.

Goodman has worked with a variety of faculty and volunteers during her time at SUNY Oswego. Some volunteers include Danielle Marichal and Talyn Faulkner, who monitor certain routes on campus looking for bird strikes, as well as Kat Enad and Kelsey Durrenberger, who helped put up window stickers at Rice Creek. Knowledgeable and supportive faculty and staff Goodman has worked with include Daniel Baldassarre of biological sciences, Kristen Haynes of Rice Creek Field Station and Kathrine Spector of the Sustainability Office.

“I would say we find about 30 percent of the strikes, and that actually might be pretty generous … because scavengers will eat them, facilities will occasionally move them if they are blocking a pathway and then it becomes difficult to find them,” Goodman said.

Occasionally, Goodman or one of the volunteers will find a bird that has survived a window strike. 

“We do find live birds, and they require immediate medical attention because they will have a severe concussion,” Goodman said. “It’s essentially like a human being hit by a car.”

If a live bird is found, they bring it to Kindred Kingdoms, a bird rehabilitation center located about 45 minutes from Oswego and run by Oswego alumna Jean Soprano. Every bird Goodman has brought to this center has been able to recover from the strike with proper care.

Goodman is hopeful that this project will continue after she graduates. She has worked with faculty members she is confident will continue her hard work and implement window stickers to protect the birds in Oswego. 

-- Written by Gabrielle Kroeger of the Class of 2023