All posts by Natalia Ocampo Penuela

American Birding Association blog about bird-window collisions

Back in April of this year, the American Birding Association asked us to write a piece on bird-window collisions and “green buildings”. We still don’t know much about the relationship between green certifications and collisions, but we suspect that green buildings have more windows, thus taking more birds. Our group is currently leading a research project on this topic and we hope to elucidate the realtionship soon. Ultimately, we would want green certifications, like LEED, to include bird friendly as a major factor for getting certified.

Read the blog here!ABA blog


Duke becomes friendlier to birds: thank you!

After two years of organized and standardized data gathering, we all know CIEMAS was the number one building when it comes to bird-window collisions. In case you missed it, this building was the center of attention for the local media, being described as a “bird killer”.

The glass walkways in CIEMAS are responsible for many of the bird deaths on this building. When Duke’s administrators asked us what part of the building we would make bird friendly first, we all agreed on the glass hallways (shown below).


These glass hallways are now bird friendly!!! Yes, you heard it: bird friendly!!!!

IMG_4479During this summer months, Duke’s staff have been working hard applying patterned film to the most dangerous structures on CIEMAS. In the close up of the window shown on the left, you can see the dots that will cue birds to the presence of a window, helping prevent collisions.

The dots are spaced according to bird collision studies’ suggestions. Our team will continue to monitor CIEMAS to document the success of these patterned films.


We hope that other universities, institutions, and householders will follow our example in making their structures bird friendly.

We want to thank everyone at Duke University that has helped make this possible, especially folks at the Facilities and Management department and Katie-Rose Levin, Dr. Tallman Trask III, Paul Manning, Casey Collins, and John Noonan. We also thank all the volunteers that have helped collect bird carcasses.

We move forward with promoting changes in other buildings at Duke, in other campuses, and everywhere.

WRAL features our collision project – FCIEMAS will be bird friendly soon!

On June 24th the local associate of CBS and Fox, WRAL, features our bird-window collision project at Duke. This is the first time on a media appearance that Duke University has made a statement. CIEMAS, the building that takes about 74% of the collisions on campus will soon be retrofitted with patterned film that will help birds recognize windows as barriers, avoiding collisions.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 7.41.34 PMWatch the news story here!

It’s about solutions: bird friendly glass

On June 21st, blogger Max Perilstein wrote a post about the need to make bird-friendly glass a solution for bird collisions instead of the causing factor. His blog was published in “Glass” magazine and talks about our Duke University collision project as an example of collisions that could well be prevented with the right kind of glass. At Duke, we now hope to move forward with making existing and new buildings bird friendly. Soon we hope to show you how we are preventing collisions on campus.

Read the blog here!

The News & Observer talks about our collision project – One building takes it all!

News and Observer article

On June 17th the local newspaper The News & Observer published an article showing preliminary results from our bird-window collision project at Duke, and what we are doing to change the faith of collision victims. CIEMAS, the engineering building, currently takes 74% of the collisions out of a pool of 7 buildings we survey. Althought this building is certified as LEED, a “green” certification, it’s large windows and glass tunnel are a huge obstacle to migratory and resident birds.

Read the complete article, including quotes from our project leaders, here!

EREN Meeting – Bird-window collisions in North American campuses

Through our leader Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, our team participated in the all members EREN (Ecological Research as Education Network) meeting in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania druing June 10-12th. One of the projects in the EREN network is the bird-window collision project in 40 North American campuses, led by Steve Hager and Brad Cosentino. Duke is part of that project and, by far, the campus with the highest number of collisions, with comparable effort and standardized techniques.

Participants from other campuses, and the project leaders, had a chance to look at the data collected and discuss data analyses. A peer-reviewed article should be ready by the end of 2015.

EREN_meeting_group_picPhoto by Steve Hager


We are in the news! – Duke’s The Chronicle

Duke University’s The Chronicle had an article out today featuring our group’s work in documenting and preventing bird-window collisions. Our project now has more attention from students, faculty, staff, and the administration. By collecting quality data, we are informing which buildings are most dangerous, and should be retrofitted, and the magnitude of this issue at Duke. When comparing Duke’s collision data with other 44 North American campuses, Duke came first. We have more collisions than any other campus, but we are soon going to change that!

Read on!


New resolution to prevent bird-window collisions!

Led by Scott Winton, our Duke bird-window collisions team has encouraged the Graduate and Professional Student Council to pass a resolution asking Duke’s administration to make our campus bird friendly. We ask that the most dangerous buildings be retrofitted, and that all new buildings should be bird friendly form their design.

Another push to make Duke a bird friendly campus!

Read the resolution: Bird collisions GPSC resolution_final

So far…not good! Summary of bird collisions 2011-2014

The semester is coming to an end, Thanksgiving is upon us, and we can already feel the chills of the winter season, and the warmth of family gatherings and hot cocoa.

Although the news coming in this post are not good, they intend to call attention to an important issue which has been largely ignored, and evidence the importance of gathering information to inform decision making. In 2011 Jeff Pippen started getting random collision reports from people at Duke, he was the go-to person when dealing with any bird issues. During that year, the first to have any records of collisions at Duke, 4 collisions were reported, of 3 different species. 2012 got 13 collisions of 5 species, and 2013 11 collisions belonging to 10 species. At this point we thought collisions were getting underestimated and decided to start monitoring them more closely. Natalia Ocampo-Penuela, later joined by Nicolette Cagle, took the lead in starting scientific research and raising public awareness about bird collisions on campus.

In 2014 we started our standardized surveys during Spring and Fall migration, and encouraged students, staff, and faculty all over campus to report their collision events. The results were amazing (and not very positive). During the Spring survey we found a total of 41 collisions in 6 buildings around campus, while the Fall survey yielded 45 collisions, so 86 collisions were reported in 42 days of the year. The rest of the collision reports for 2014 have come from our project collaborators everywhere on campus (Thanks guys!).

2014 has been a deadly year for birds at Duke, a total of 159 collisions occurred with a 98% death rate, so not many birds survived. From 2011 to 2014, 187 collisions have been recorded. Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Gray Catbird, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird hold the highest bird deaths, and the engineering building, CIEMAS, accounts for 60% of all the collisions that have taken place at Duke University.

Isn’t it time we started doing something about this?

Picture by Bill Majoros
Picture by Bill Majoros