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SF to tally bird-into-window death toll

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POSTED August 21, 2014 7:52 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco officials have launched a program to document the number of birds that die by crashing into windows in an effort to reduce such collisions.

The city’s planning department is seeking volunteers to count the number of dead birds around their homes each week during peak migration periods, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday (http://bit.ly/YERUjW). The participants would then log that information on a city website.

Officials say the goal is to raise awareness about the dangers windows pose to birds and get better numbers about how many birds are dying that way.

“So far, there hasn’t been enough scientific data gathered on bird-window collisions in urban residential settings,” said Cindy Margulis, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

At least 100 million birds die each year in North America by striking windows, according to the American Bird Conservancy. The group says far more birds die by colliding with windows or glass buildings than by hitting wind turbines or cellphone towers.

A San Francisco ordinance passed three years ago requires new development projects to treat some windows with netting, frosted glass or similar bird deterrents. The ordinance mainly applies to new commercial buildings or large additions to existing commercial buildings if they stand in bird flight paths or are near parks or the shoreline, the Chronicle reported.

But experts say the protections do not have to be that elaborate, and even insect screens or strings in front of large picture windows can help.

“The more I learned about bird strikes, the more I learned how completely avoidable they are if only humans would pay more attention,” Judith Pynn, who signed up for the city program, told the Chronicle.

Pynn and other volunteers get a decal certifying them as a “bird-friendly resident” and can be entered in a raffle, though the prizes have yet to be determined.

San Francisco has set aside $140,000 — half of it from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant — over a four-year period ending next June for bird safety efforts, including subsidies for residents to make large windows safer.

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