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Since its opening in October 2020, Berlin Brandenburg Airport Terminal 1 has been checking for possible bird collisions. Birds frequently collide with buildings with glass surfaces, including residential buildings. However, there are no precise figures on how big the problem is. Environmental authorities and nature conservation associations estimate that in Germany alone up to 100 million birds die each year after colliding with glass surfaces on buildings, noise barriers, and bridges.
Since November last year, 50 animals have been discovered during daily searches for dead birds at BER Airport; they had flown into the glass fronts of the terminal or the adjacent colonnades. There are few specific studies on the extent of the problem of bird collisions with buildings. For example, the Bavarian State Office for the Environment (LfU) systematically assessed its own buildings in Augsburg twice over two years between 2000 and 2018. Around 200 dead birds were found.
According to a tabular list of collision data from the Federal States’ Working Group for Bird Observatories, 200 dead birds were found at the Post Tower in Bonn within a year during daily checks of the areas. In November 2018, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper reported on a count at the Mainz Football Arena where 1,000 dead birds were found within a year. All counts must also assume that more birds perished as a result of the collision some time after it happened.
On the one hand, the number of dead birds found at BER, especially given the fact that there are probably an unknown number of further victims, is reason for FBB to actively address the topic. On the other hand, the number of dead birds at BER has been relatively low so far. This may be connected with the fact that, among other things, there is no planting inside the terminal. Green spaces behind glass fronts have proven to be particularly deadly traps for birds. Flight operations, the positioning of the building in relation to the birds’ migratory direction, and the relative scarcity of food around BER could also explain the relatively low numbers.
The installation of sheeting on the free-standing glass walls of the colonnades to the north and south of the terminal building is currently being looked at to prevent more bird collisions in the future. Bird collisions have been observed relatively frequently there. FBB is in consultation with the Dahme Spreewald district’s responsible local nature conservation authority.