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STLPR helps protect migratory birds with window decals

Workers install Feather Friendly decals onto St. Louis Public Radios’ headquarters in order to prevent migratory birds from crashing into the building on Monday, May 8, 2023, in Grand Center.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A worker from Vinyl Images installs Feather Friendly decals onto St. Louis Public Radios’ headquarters in order to prevent migratory birds from crashing into the building on Monday, May 8, 2023, in Grand Center.

May and September are peak migratory months for birds. Thanks to St. Louis Public Radio listeners, this year, birds traveling the flight path around UMSL at Grand Center will have a much safer journey.

All of the station’s Give STL Day contributions last May were dedicated to making the building a more bird-safe space with the installation of stickers on key window exteriors.
It’s estimated that nearly 1 billion birds are killed by building collisions each year. It’s a particularly awful problem each May and September in St. Louis because the city is positioned along the Mississippi Flyway — the largest migratory pathway used by birds in North America.

Exterior glass, whether clear, tinted, or reflective, is not a recognizable part of the natural world for birds. They simply don’t see it. During the day, glass also reflects the images of trees and sky that appear to birds like a friendly flight path.

Madalyn Painter /STLPR

STLPR staffers were distressed by the number of birds that crashed, and reached out to a local bird conservation group, and later to station listeners, for help.

“I’m a bird lover and have been since I was a little kid,” said STLPR mid-day host Greg Munteanu. When he and other staffers began cataloging bird strikes in 2018, they noticed big increases during the spring and fall migration seasons.

“It was depressing to see all of these birds meeting their end at our building after flying hundreds, in some cases, thousands of miles to reach their breeding grounds,” he said. “We knew we had to do something.”

Staffers petitioned the St. Louis on the Air team to do a show about the issue, and that led to a happy collaboration with a featured guest from the Audubon Center at Riverlands, and ultimately the crowd-sourced fund drive.

STLPR was the first company in St. Louis to initiate a formal building assessment by the Audubon Center at Riverlands. The organization identified all of the ways in which the building at Grand Center might pose a hazard to birds.

Thank you to our supporters

According to Maria Bradford, STLPR’s Director of Development, the station was able to raise $26,570 in funds on Give STL Day toward a bird-safe solution, thanks in part to matching support from Mark and Peggy Holly and the Frederick Pitzman Fund.

“By supporting this project, STLPR listeners have shown how deeply they care about our community and our world,” said Bradford. "We truly would not have been able to do this without the support we received on Give STL Day.”

Some of the Audubon Center’s proposed solutions were simple and easy enough for any company or individual to follow. For instance, it helps to leave blinds closed and turn off lights to reduce reflections when possible.

But, because lights are required for human activity, the local Audubon Center also recommended bird-safe stickers, the focus of the Give STL Day bird-safe campaign.

The new window decals were created and shipped from Feather Friendly, a Canadian company specializing in bird strike solutions. The decals will break up the reflection of sky and trees that so often confuse our flighted neighbors.

The decals were installed by local company, Vinyl Images, just as the massive annual journey for migratory birds builds to a peak this May.

What more you can do

You can learn more about simple ways to keep birds safe at your home or office and explore migratory birds in their habitat at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Homeowners can also pursue home certification from the Missouri Chapter of International Dark Sky Association to protect migratory birds from light pollution in the night sky.

As the Communications Specialist for St. Louis Public Radio, Fontella gets to showcase the award-winning local reporting, original programming and community engagement that make STLPR a beloved regional institution.