Green Practices: Bird-Safe Buildings

Best Practices to Reduce Bird Collisions

In 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management published Reducing Bird Collisions with Buildings and Building Glass Best Practices. The document is intended to provide straight-forward options for reducing bird collisions with buildings by offering recommendations for simple, no cost building occupant best practices; low cost avoidance and minimization actions; and strategies for new buildings, building renovations, and building retro-fits.

Bird-Friendly Building Design

In 2015, the American Bird Conservancy published an updated Bird-Friendly Building Design book to assist developers, architects, and building owners working with LEED Pilot Credit #55 – Reducing Bird Collisions; regulators and builders researching the application of voluntary guidelines or mandatory standards for buildings; or anyone looking for information on the collisions issue and designing structures that minimize bird deaths. ABC's website offers supplemental information to the book, and they recommend an array of effective window solutions for homeowners and architects.

Fatal Light Awareness Program

Guided in part by the constellations, they are attracted to lights shining from skyscrapers, broadcast towers, lighthouses, monuments and other tall structures. The birds either flutter about the light until they drop from exhaustion, or actually hit the object. Fog, rain or low cloud can make the problem worse. Approximately half of the birds found die from their injuries suffered in the collision. Many require medical attention. Head trauma, broken beaks and feather damage are typical injuries.

The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a registered charity, was formed in April 1993 to find a solution to the problem. FLAP documents bird kills, rescues survivors of collisions, and developed Lights Out Toronto; their website includes a page on solutions.

Window Collisions

Birds can easily fly around obstacles in their habitat but they are not prepared for invisible obstacles like panes of glass. Today, the danger of collisions is increasing. Studies have shown that per year and building at least one bird dies, presumably many more because the number of undetected cases is very high. Often collisions happen where it was not expected.

Even when birds do not seem to show any injuries after colliding, one half of these individuals die later due to internal bleeding. Almost all groups of birds are affected, with rare and threatened species among them.

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