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Bill Would Make Federal Buildings "Bird Friendly"

Products such as BirdTape are inexpensive ways to prevent collisions into home windows. (abcbirds.org)
Products such as BirdTape are inexpensive ways to prevent collisions into home windows. (abcbirds.org)
October 17, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Millions of birds die every year because they can't tell reflections from reality, which means they smash full speed into windows.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are being asked to make all new federal buildings safer for birds. Legislation to do that (SB 1920) has been proposed in the Senate by New Jersey Democrat Corey Booker, and in the House earlier this year by Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley and Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith.

Christine Sheppard, director of the Glass Collisions Program for the American Bird Conservancy, says architects already have been designing buildings for corporations that are safe for our feathered friends, and they have the added benefit of cutting down on heating and cooling costs.

"The New York Times building, for example, has a second skin that's made out of a series of ceramic rods, and the spacing between the rods changes as you go up and down the building, so there are areas where light comes in, and there are other areas where there's the view," she explains.

Sheppard says while the federal legislation will reduce the number of birds killed every year, the real problem is with smaller buildings. More birds die each year from smashing into windows on homes than by colliding with skyscrapers.

Sheppard says that means homeowners can help by putting reflective patterns on glass, or by using inexpensive stencils or paint. She says another tip is to avoid putting a bird feeder near a window.

"Birds are not aware of glass as something that not only is a transparent barrier but that can also reflect the environment, and since birds take what they see literally, they often try to fly through an environment that is actually a reflection," she says.

The species most commonly killed by hitting windows in the United States include white-throated sparrow, dark-eyed junco, ovenbird and song sparrow. Several other species of national conservation concern include several warblers, the painted bunting and the wood thrush. The American Bird Conservatory's website has information on how to make your home safe for birds.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD