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Birds in flight are prone to collide with various transparent or reflective structures. While bird–window collision has been recognised as a critical conservation issue, collision with other transparent structures has been less understood. Noise barriers made of transparent materials are considered critical hazards for birds; however, little is known about the bird mortality they cause. We conducted the first nationwide-scale estimates of bird-collision mortality caused by transparent noise barriers (TNBs) along roads in the Republic of Korea. The total length of existing roadside transparent noise barriers was estimated at 1,416 km nationwide (as of 2018), and it had been increasing exponentially. Based on carcass surveys at 25 sites, daily mortality at the observed barriers was 0.335 ± 1.132 birds/km on average, and no difference in observed mortality was detected between both sides of a single barrier and between road types (i.e. local roads and motorways). Finally, we estimated that approximately 186,000 birds (95% confidence interval: 162,465–204,812 birds) are killed annually by collisions with roadside TNBs. As privately installed barriers were not considered in this study, the actual mortality is likely be higher than our estimates. Thus, collision with TNBs could become an emerging threat to avian conservation, especially in developing and urbanising regions around the world. As such structures are not formally recognised as conservation issues of importance, more systematic surveys aided by citizen science, both for the status of TNBs and bird-collision mortality, are needed in addition to management and mitigation policies.
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