Migrating toward Bird-Friendly Buildings
How we can protect bird populations with glass
The United Nations International Year of Glass 2022, or IYOG, celebrates the essential role glass has and will continue to have in society. Throughout IYOG, the National Glass Association will promote the ways architectural glass can improve our built environment and the world, focusing on a single theme each month of 2022. NGA’s IYOG theme for May: bird-friendly glazing.
By the numbers
Between 365 million and 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States due to collisions with buildings, according to a study from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Tom Will of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Migratory Birds. Collisions with buildings are a leading cause of bird deaths behind domestic cats, which are the most lethal threat to birds.
Importance of birds
Birds play an important role in our world and have a strong influence on the way we manage our environment. They help us understand changes in biodiversity and are useful barometers of variations in environmental conditions. They also help control insect populations. Furthermore, birds have a positive impact on our social and economic lives as they are great singing and speaking companions and contribute to a birdwatching industry generating billions in revenue worldwide.
The glass challenge
Clear and reflective surfaces in buildings can be a passive invisible killer of birds. Bird collisions can occur at all times of the day, in every season of the year, and under all-weather conditions in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes.
Bird/glass collisions are easily preventable: make glass visible to birds. The glass industry offers numerous solutions that create markers or patterns on the glass at specific spacings that make the glass visible to birds. When used at locations on buildings as high as the tree canopy, bird collisions can be significantly reduced.
NGA supports the implementation of bird-friendly design strategies such H.R.1986 - Federal Bird Safe Buildings Act of 2021 and S.791 Federal Bird Safe Buildings Act of 2021. NGA offers the Best Practice for Bird Friendly Glazing Design Guide, which can be referenced in bird-friendly glazing legislation.
The association offers numerous additional resources to educate lawmakers, and the building and design community, on the issue of bird/glass collisions and the solutions for bird-friendly glazing, such as the one-pager Saving Birds with Effective Glazing Solutions, available for download for industry representatives to share with local legislators or other parties.