Florida

What’s killing the birds at a college campus in Florida?

Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

Bam!

A loud thud is not necessarily the noise you expect to hear when you’re trying to learn about handling finances.

Late last week, accounting students at the University of Florida in Gainesville were perturbed by the violent sounds during class, and even more when they saw what the cause of them was.

A handful of birds, later identified as cedar waxwings, were lying dead in their tracks on the path outside Gerson Hall. The winged creatures had apparently flown into the “highly reflective” glass doors, assuming they were flying through the air, reports The Independent Florida Alligator.

The school’s spokeswoman Janine Sikes confirmed seven bird deaths on Thursday. This was not a one-time incident.

Experts at the university have joined to form the Bird Collision Project to figure out what’s causing the fatal flights. Since 2016, the group has counted 117 deaths.

The organization’s website reads: “Except for habitat destruction, collisions with clear and reflective sheet glass and plastic cause the deaths of more birds than any other human-related avian mortality factor.”

The tragic issue seems to occur more during the winter, when birds fly to South America, by way of Florida.

On the UF campus, cedar waxwings seem to have the most fatal crashes.

“They are everywhere and they go in flocks,” Mark Hostetler, a professor of wildlife ecology at the school, told the paper. “Sometimes they just can’t recognize what they’re seeing.”

To combat the problem, Hostetler says cords were hung on windows and doors so they don’t look completely clear.

“They think there’s something there and can’t fly through it,” he said.

Students have been advised to report a dead bird at the site straight from their phones by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading a pic.

If the bird is still alive, they’re asked to gently place the wounded creature in a cardboard box and contact Florida Wildlife Care.

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