U of M's new Bell Museum features bird-safe glass windows

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The Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota recently got an environmentally-friendly makeover, one that bird-lovers will surely appreciate.

All of the exterior windows at the museum now feature a custom patterned glass to aid in bird conservation. According to a release, the glass features line or dot patterns that are screen printed onto the surface of the glass. This type of glass, known as fritted glass, is a feature designed for energy efficiency that has also been found to help birds avoid deadly collisions with the glass.

According to a 2014 study by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, an estimated 365 million to 988 million birds die each year from building collisions in the United States.

Less than 30 percent of the Bell Museum is comprised of glass, but the glass is used to create large expanses in the lobby and two storybox windows on the museum's second floor that could create hazards to birds if proper measures were not taken.

Audubon Minnesota, the Bell Museum, and others are partners on Project BirdSafe, a multifaceted initiative aimed at reducing hazards to birds, such as those from collisions, cats, habitat loss and climate change.

The project has also collected more than a decade’s worth of data from citizen science volunteers who "monitored their environs for bird-window collision events. Two graduate students, Sami Nichols and Abigail Anderson, from the University's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences are using this data to further investigate patterns and processes of bird-window collisions.”