Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

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Loyola's campus is more friendly for migratory birds

Loyola

An enormous new decal warns migratory birds away from window collisions.

The Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) is a student-led effort to make campus safer for migrating birds. Every spring several million birds fly through Chicago as they head north to breed, returning again in the fall as they fly south to wintering grounds.

Many of these birds pass through Loyola’s campus, especially during the early morning as they fly in off the lake. Although these birds navigate over thousands of miles they are not good at perceiving glass, making them very susceptible to window collisions. Loyola’s campus has several buildings that have extensive glass in their facades, including the Information Commons, Sullivan, Halas, and Norville. Birds frequently collide with these buildings, and these collisions are usually fatal. 

The first main activity of SOAR is to collect and transport birds for rehabilitation, cataloging the building, orientation and species involved in a collision.

The second activity is to work with on- and off-campus partners to reduce the risks posed by Loyola’s buildings by developing solutions.

Through some simple yet innovative solutions, collisions have been significantly reduced at most of the glass buildings.  For example, closing window shades during the morning hours around sunrise, whether manually in Sullivan or as part of the building automation system schedule in the high tech Information Commons, has drastically improved the situation for birds.

Over the last several years the SOAR project has identified the large east facing windows of the Norville Center for Intercollegiate Athletics as being particularly dangerous for migrating birds. Based on this, and there being no shades to close, the Facilities Department has worked with Athletics to design and install a decal design that should reduce bird collisions.

SOAR will again be out monitoring in the fall and will be able to compare the number of dead/injured birds to what has been recorded in past seasons to see if the decals have helped, and by how much.

More information on the Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) project, birds, and buildings can be found here.