ASG Senate passes legislation to reduce bird collisions with Mudd Library


Daily file photo by Katie Chen

Wednesday marked the body’s first weekly meeting since the start of a four-week trial run of a new Senate order, which began with a town hall-style meeting Feb. 8. On Wednesday’s agenda: Bird collisions at Mudd Library.

Julian Andreone, Reporter

The Associated Student Government Senate passed legislation Wednesday aiming to reduce bird collisions with Mudd Library.

ASG Sustainability Committee members SESP freshman Louis Lee and McCormick freshman Lianne Kim co-authored the resolution, which calls on Northwestern to install stripe pattern film stickers on Mudd Library to limit these incidents. 

“It’s important to repair the damage that we’ve brought on,” Kim said.

According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, adding film or decals can increase the “visual conspicuousness” of windows to birds, making the birds less likely to collide with them.

The committee sent a petition to the student body in October asking for support on implementing campus bird safety measures at Mudd Library. Members received 857 student signatures for the petition, 35 of which were submitted on behalf of a student organization, according to the legislators.

Some Evanston residents also supported the effort to reduce bird deaths, according to Sustainability Committee co-Chair and Weinberg senior Sadie Bernstein. She said a group of retired residents come to campus to clean up dead birds during early mornings so students do not have to see them.

Kim said birds native to the Chicago area understand windows. But, she said birds that migrate from other areas may be more likely to collide with buildings on campus.

Lee said collisions with buildings destabilize the birds’ destination environments by disrupting migration patterns. 

“Other ecosystems are the ones affected by (the deaths of) these key species,” Lee said. “You might be like, ‘Oh, it’s not our problem.’ But that’s exactly the point — it’s other people’s problems.”

Green House Vice President and Weinberg junior Vlad Nevirkovets said he was one of the first members of the Sustainability Committee to encourage senators to enact legislative reform addressing bird deaths. 

Nevirkovets said the project will require about $70,000 in funding to purchase and apply the stickers. But, he believes adding the stickers would be worth the high price tag.

Dot pattern film stickers were added to windows at the Kellogg School of Management in 2019.  As a result, bird collisions reduced from 221 in spring 2018 to 34 in spring 2020, according to the legislation. 

Nevirkovets also said stripe pattern film stickers on windows in the Frances Searle Building have “almost completely eliminated” such incidents.

“We are proposing stripe patterns, but we are open to dot patterns too,” Nevirkovets said. “Any bird safety measure is better than none at all.”

Mudd Library, which does not have any film patterns on its windows, has caused 299 recorded bird deaths over the past three years, according to Lee. 

Wednesday also marked the body’s first weekly meeting since the start of a four-week trial run of a new Senate order, which began with a town hall-style meeting Feb. 8.

The trial run will conclude March 1 following a legislation implementation meeting with University representatives.

Speaker of the Senate and Weinberg junior Dylan Jost said the new structure has been “quite successful” and has received endorsements from several ASG senators and executive board members. 

“We’ve really expanded our minds and our opportunities to interact with administrators and create a more streamlined, expansive process where we’re able to see how legislation can really make an impact,” Jost said.

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Twitter: @JulianAndreone

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