For almost a year and a half a small group of MBC members have been in conversation with the Brooks Family YMCA here in Charlottesville. We were addressing the bird strikes that have occurred at the large (30×125’) window at the aquatics room in the back of the building. This issue was brought to our attention in the fall of 2018 by Walker Catlett, a high school student and member of the Y. He had noticed the large numbers of dead birds lying at the base of the window and asked for our help in finding a solution to this problem.
Since then we have given the Y’s executive director the best information available as to the options they could employ to prevent most bird strikes. Research time was devoted towards looking into products, contractors and probable costs. Between September 15 and November 15, 2019, the heart of fall migration, several members of MBC participated in a survey of the birds killed at the aquatics window. Seventeen birds were found, some neo-tropical migrants. Nobody knows how many strikes occurred that injured birds we never saw.
We gave the Y our survey report explaining that 17 bird deaths was a significant number considering how many strikes were occurring at other windows all over Virginia and nationally.
At the beginning of this year the Y informed us that because of some costly unanticipated structural problems at the Y that they would not be able to continue considering remediation of the aquatics window. Therefore, with little more to offer, the conservation committee has now terminated our relationship with the Y.
The problem of bird strikes will not let up, however, until many changes take place in our society. I would like to propose that MBC continue to address the issue, but in a different way – by focusing on residential buildings rather than trying to remediate windows already in place in large corporate buildings. As a first step let’s encourage all members of MBC to prevent strikes at their own homes. We start off with a good knowledge base and the experience of members who have already taken measures to treat their windows. There is lots of help available to us as well, particularly from the American Bird Conservancy. But ABC depends on grassroots action to promote this vital work. If not we who are active in the birding community, then who will?
I invite all who want to act on behalf of bird conservation by reducing deaths-by-window at our homes to join me on the conservation committee to work together towards that end.