We have all heard of obituaries. Usually, however, obituaries are for people who have died. In an interesting twist, bird obituaries are now a real thing. They are also very useful for conservationists who are working to reduce bird mortality.
Bird collisions with human-made poses a real problem. Estimates for North American bird deaths from these types of collisions range from 300 million up to one billion per year. An estimated 250,000 birds die from collisions with human-made structures in New York City alone each year. The exact numbers of birds that are killed in collisions with buildings and other structures each year is not known because there has been no way of tracking the deaths.
Now a dead bird database known as D-Bird allows volunteers to report bird deaths. The database was developed by New York City Audubon and is hosted at d-bird.org. People who spot dead birds can upload a photo, along with the date, time and location where the bird was found. D-Bird received nearly 100 reports of bird deaths during the recent spring migration. More than 500 reports have been posted to the site since it was started.
A conservation biologist with New York City Audubon monitors the database. The location of each dead bird is represented on a map. Over time, and with enough data points entered into the database, conservationists will be able to identify the problem areas where the most bird collisions are occurring. Hopefully this information will also allow them to figure out what is causing the problem and take steps to reduce the number of bird fatalities at these locations.
In addition to tracking bird fatalities, the database allows tracking of injured birds. Reports of injured birds allow a transporter from Audubon to locate the bird and take it to a rehabilitation center.
D-Bird was initially developed for New York City Audubon. Since tracking bird fatalities is so important along migratory routes, D-Bird has been adapted so that the Atlanta Audubon Society, Audubon Minnesota, and Audubon Texas are able to use the program too. A Silicon Valley chapter will also be using the program soon.