Members of the Juneau Audubon Society post for a picture with members of the Idea Homeschool Program team at the FIRST Lego League competition to commend their novel approach to reducing bird strikes at Centennial Hall on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (Alexia Kiefer | Courtesy Photo)

Members of the Juneau Audubon Society post for a picture with members of the Idea Homeschool Program team at the FIRST Lego League competition to commend their novel approach to reducing bird strikes at Centennial Hall on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (Alexia Kiefer | Courtesy Photo)

Students recognized for idea to stop birds from flying into windows

The homeschoolers are looking into solving the bird strike problem

Five students from the Idea Homeschool program were recognized Saturday at the FIRST Lego League competition at Centennial Hall for their work attacking the problem of bird strikes on windows.

“We were really impressed with their questions, their display, and the idea of their invention. They put a lot of thought into it,” said Alexia Keifer, a member of the Juneau Audubon Society. “It’s so unique. Not every day do children want to take on the challenge of bird strikes.”

The students, aged between 10 and 13, asked questions to members of the JAS and the Juneau Raptor Center about the issue, Keifer said. Questions like how bird’s eyes worked and what causes birds to fly into windows helped them form a picture of both the problem and possible solutions.

[Here’s what the governor’s budget would mean for Juneau schools]

Bird strikes kill more than 1 billion birds annually in the United States, according to the American Bird Conservancy, said JAS president Gwen Baluss in a phone interview.

“A lot of times, what happens is if it’s dark behind the glass, there’s a mirror effect,” Baluss said. “They don’t see inside the house, they think it’s another tree, and they can fly right through it.”

The problem is particularly prominent in Juneau, where large picture windows in homes are common and many species of birds live, Baluss said. Certain buildings, including the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, are particularly strike-prone.

“What I love is creativity and we’d love to see more ideas out there,” Baluss said. “The more ideas you can get, the more options we have, and we can get more windows treated.”

The group of students combined a pair of ideas that relied on the visual range of birds’ vision and their aversion to flying through small holes.

“The solution was a window film that would prevent shattering with an imprinted fluorescent grid,” Keifer said.

Birds’ wider range of vision allows them to see the grid, simulated with a highlighter by the students. The grids would not be visible to humans. Similar overlays are already available using patterns of dots that the birds can see to warn them off from the window, but the fluorescent pattern is a new twist, Baluss said.

[An inside look at Juneau’s sleep-off program]

Other bird strike prevention products rely on things like screens, patterns of dots or shapes in regular patterns of no more than four inches apart, or hanging things like used monofilament fishnet in front of one’s windows. Baluss said that many easy options are available at hardware stores.

“We’re just really excited that young people are thinking about this problem and making others more aware of it,” Baluss said.

The JAS and JRC gave the students gifts from the raptor center, including T-shirts and gift cards to Hearthside Books. The students will go on to present their idea at the FIRST Lego League Championship in Anchorage.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


More in News

Hand sanitizer and declaration forms for out-of-state arrivals to the Juneau International Airport on Oct. 12, 2020. An update to the state's travel mandates and to the way tests from the airport are processed, out-of-state arrivals must now register both with the state's traveler website and a private lab's website. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
City announces new requirements for out-of-state arrivals

Updated travel mandate changes process.

This is a police car.
Police calls for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

teeaassee
Firefighters respond to a Friday night fire

At about 10:30 p.m., CCFR responded to a residential fire on the 8000 block of Thunder Street.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. (courtesy photo)
Election 2020: A conversation with U.S. House Rep. Don Young

The congressman discusses economics, oil and the stimulus

This is a police car.  It has always been a police car.
Police calls for Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Capital Transit is tightening passenger limits in response to raised community risk levels, Oct. 22, 2020. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Risk level means new limits for city buses

Fewer passengers will be allowed in busses and vans.

This is a police car.  It has always been a police car.
Police calls for Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This is a police car. It has always been a police car.
Police calls for Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read