Washington, D.C., November 15, 2010 – As part of a national-level program to reduce the massive and growing number of bird deaths resulting from building collisions in the United States, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, today announced the availability of a new, national publication, American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Friendly Building Designs.
“As new buildings are constructed each day across the country, architects, building owners, developers, and city planners need the direction this publication provides on how to make buildings safer for birds. Scientific studies have estimated that up to one billion birds die from building collisions in the United States each year, but as new data continue to be gathered and analyzed, it is quite possible that even that staggering figure will be found to be low,” said Dr. Christine Sheppard, ABC’s Building Collisions Campaign Manager and author of the new guidelines.
The 58-page publication contains over 110 photographs and 10 illustrations and focuses on both the causes of collisions and the solutions, with a comprehensive appendix on the biological science behind the issue. The designs build on earlier efforts targeting local communities such as New York City, Chicago, and Toronto.
The publication examines the mirror effect of windows, glass transparency, the “passage effect” caused by dark glass, and the effects of external and internal building lighting, all of which lead to bird collisions.
The publication addresses building design, bird movements, and habitat and landscaping, which can help or exacerbate the collision problem.
The publication defines an ABC Bird-friendly Building Standard and also highlights legislative approaches to reducing collisions. In addition, it covers new construction ideas to improve building façades using different types of glass, nettings, screens, grilles, shutters, and exterior shades. Retrofitting of old buildings is also addressed, as are landscaping and lighting considerations that can be implemented in both new and old construction.
“Birds rarely learn from a collision experience since it is most likely fatal. Most of us have had the jarring experience of accidentally walking into a closed patio door or storefront entrance. Imagine if we did that at 20-40 miles per hour 200 feet up,” Sheppard said.
ABC recently partnered with Golden Gate Audubon to help the city of San Francisco’s board of governors pass bird safe building standards, which were approved in October 2011 by Mayor Edwin Lee. At the national level, Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) has introduced legislation (HR 1643) that calls for each public building constructed, acquired, or altered by the General Services Administration (GSA) to incorporate, to the maximum extent possible, bird-safe building materials and design features. The legislation would require GSA to take similar actions on existing buildings, where practicable.
“Protecting and helping birds is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for the economy and the future of our environment. Birds are invaluable as controllers of crop insect pests and as pollinators of plants and seed distributors. They also generate billions of dollars in economic revenues through the pastimes of bird feeding and birdwatching,” said Sheppard.
A recent federal government study reports that one in every six Americans – 48 million people – participates in birdwatching, spending an estimated $36 billion annually in pursuit of their pastime.