Friday, June 5th 2009, was the 14th annual Dead Duck Day. At 17.55h sharp (Rotterdam Time) a nice mix of duck enthusiasts, other bird lovers, curious people and readers of (my book) ‘De eendenman’ (totaling five nationalities) gathered next to the glass pavilion of the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam for the short open-air ceremony. Besides commemorating the necro-duck, I asked special attention to the global problem of bird-glass collision. Professor Daniel Klem, Jr – who has studied the subject for more than 35 years – had send a special message which I read. When it was all over, several participants joined the traditional six-course duck dinner at the famous Tai Wu restaurant.
This is the first special Dead Duck Day Message, written and send in by Daniel Klem Jr:
My dear friends in The Netherlands,
In celebration of Dead Duck Day I have been asked to offer a brief message about the problem of bird strikes at windows. For over 35 years I have studied avian mortality at windows, and my investigations reveal that birds behave as if clear and reflective panes are invisible to them. Fatal strikes can occur wherever birds and windows co-exist, and based on extensive evidence I claim that this source of human-associated avian mortality is greater than any other, with the exception of habitat destruction; destroy a bird’s habitat and you destroy its ability to survive. Certainly, more birds are killed the world over flying into windows than are killed at power lines, wind turbines, pesticides, oil spills and pollution in general, and even from domestic cats. To prevent these unintended and unwanted tragedies, we humans must transform windows into obstacles that birds will see and avoid. The use of ultraviolet (UV) signals to alert birds to the window hazard has recently been shown to be a potentially elegant solution because birds see UV and we humans do not. The June issue of The Wilson Ornithological Journal will publish [PDF] the results of my research over the past four years describing the prevention of bird-window collisions, to include the effectiveness of UV signals and other techniques.
To all who have gathered here at this special celebration to honor the original Dead Duck at the Natural History Museum Rotterdam, I thank you for your interest in this very important conservation issue for birds and people. Please join me not only this day but hereafter in doing whatever you can to save more bird lives from windows.
All my best always; I am sincerely and respectfully yours, Dan
(Daniel Klem, Jr., Sarkis Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
Here are some pictures, kindly taken by Jaap van Leeuwen and Garry Bakker. Thank you all for coming. See you next year for the 15th Dead Duck Day, organised by the Natural History Museum Rotterdam and the European Bureau of Improbable Research.