Bird Collisions with Glass and Buildings

Reflections in a glass office building confuse birds and can be fatal. Photo by Microsoft

Composite photo of birds killed at buildings in Baltimore, by Daniel Lebbin, ABC.


 

The Challenge
 

An estimated 300 million to 1 billion birds die each year from collisions with glass on buildings, from skyscrapers to homes. Birds simply can’t tell reflection from reality. Even if a bird flies away after striking a window, it may die elsewhere as a result of the collision.


 

ABC Conservation Framework
 

This program fits into two the category Eliminating Threatsof within ABC's conservation Framework.
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Primary Birds Impacted
 

While songbirds are most at risk from collisions with glass, nearly 300 species have been reported as collision victims, including hummingbirds, woodpeckers, kingfishers, woodcock and birds of prey.


 

Solutions
 

Incorporate bird-safe design elements into new architecture for commercial buildings and homes. Retrofit existing buildings with solutions such as applying tape (such as ABC BirdTape), film, paint, or decals to their exterior to create visual barriers; installing netting in front of the glass or using exterior shutters; and modifying interior and exterior lighting regimes. Download ABC’s collisions brochure: You Can Save Birds From Flying into Your Windows and follow the guidelines to make your windows more visible to birds.




ABC Results
 

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ABC worked with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to incorporate solutions for bird-friendly architecture into its green building certification guidelines. LEED now offers a pilot “bird credit” for those who design and build in a bird-friendly manner.

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ABC has partnered with the Philadelphia Zoo and Bronx Zoo to test promising methods of retrofitting glass to protect birds. ABC is also working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to provide practical information to zoos, aquariums, and their visitors.

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ABC assisted the City of San Francisco in developing and passing Standards for Bird-safe Buildings. This legislation was signed into law in October, 2011, and mandates bird-friendly design for facades of buildings in areas where the threat to birds is highest.

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ABC has produced ABC Birdtape, a low cost, easily applied product for protecting birds at home windows.

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To Increase awareness of this problem in the planning, architectural, and building communities, and the general public, ABC has produced Bird-friendly Building Design, a first-of-its-kind publication explaining the problem of bird collisions, the reasons behind it, and the practical solutions. The book can be downloaded in pdf form or purchased in printed edition here.

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ABC now provides continuing education classes for architects on the subject of bird collisions. Contact for information on how to arrange an on-site class or webinar.



 

What Next?
 

What Next Button ABC is conducting extensive research in conjunction with the Powdermill Bird Banding Station in Pennsylvania to identify the most effective ways to deter bird collisions and how to rate effectiveness of different materials. The results of these tests can then be applied to  create legislation and guidelines, develop and test new products and learn more about why glass is a problem for birds.
What Next Button ABC’s goal is to integrate bird safety into the very definition of a green building, and to have this reflected in specific performance standards to reduce collision hazards. Such standards will encourage innovative designs by architects, and stimulate market-driven solutions to the problem by increasing demand for new products, such as glass that is visible to birds but not to people—perhaps the ultimate high-tech solution to bird collisions with windows.
What Next Button Work with manufacturers and scientists to develop technological solutions to the bird strike problem.
What Next Button Increase awareness of this problem in the planning, architectural, and building communities, and the general public. ABC is producing a comprehensive instructional booklet for this purpose.

Take Action
   
  • If you are designing or building a house or commercial building, or if you are involved in urban planning, take steps to make buildings bird-safe. Consult ABC’s Bird-friendly Building Design.

     
  • Download ABC’s collisions brochure: You Can Save Birds From Flying into Your Windows and follow the guidelines to make your windows more visible to birds.

  • Join or start a local Lights Out program that not only works with building managers to reduce light pollution, but rescues injured and disoriented birds. You can find more information in ABC’s Bird-friendly Building Design.

  • Contact your local government representative, department of sustainability, department of the environment and/or Planning Department. Tell them about the problem of bird mortality from collisions and suggest they adopt ABC’s model legislation.


  • Use ABC BirdTape to make windows where you live and work safe for birds.


  • Office workers and residents of apartment buildings should ask building managers to have the exterior vanity lights and flood lights turned off at night, especially during migration seasons.

  • If you live or work on the upper floors of a building, keep your blinds drawn during overnight hours.

  • Move house plants away from windows so birds do not mistake them for available habitat.

  • Join a volunteer program that not only works with building managers to reduce light pollution, but rescues injured and disoriented birds.
   
   
 
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