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Legislation to Reduce Bird Collisions Passes the US House of Representatives

The American Bird Conservancy applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 2, which includes H.R. 919-Bird-Safe Buildings Act. This bipartisan bill is designed to reduce bird mortality by calling for federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features. As many as 1 billion birds a year die in collisions with buildings in the U.S.

Congressman Mike Quigley has been the driving force behind this bipartisan legislation for more than a decade. “In a time when wildlife faces unprecedented, human-driven challenges, we have an obligation to be responsible members of our environment and do what we can to mitigate our impacts on those we share this planet with,” says Quigley. “That can start with protecting wildlife from deadly collisions with our buildings.”

The Bird-Safe Buildings Act will soon be introduced in the Senate, and conservationists are optimistic about its passage, says the organization.

Many bird-friendly design techniques―such as installing screens or grilles on windows and minimizing the use of glass on lower floors―are already used in some federal buildings to control heat and light, or for security. The proposed bill would require the General Services Administration to apply similar measures, where practicable, to all new and existing federal buildings.

The legislation would help address one of the greatest human-caused threats to birds, says Dr. Christine Sheppard, director of ABC's Glass Collisions Program“In 2008, ABC founded what is still the only national-level program dedicated to reducing the billion bird deaths that occur annually from collisions with glass in the U.S.,” says Sheppard. “Since then, more than 20 states, counties, and municipalities have passed bird-friendly legislation. However, the H.R. 919 is a game-changer. The recognition of this issue at the federal level is a momentous achievement because if passed by the Senate and put into law, it will set an example for the entire U.S.A.”

Leading up to this news, in December 2019, the New York City Council passed the country’s most comprehensive bird-friendly buildings law. These advancements are necessary for bird species: a study published in Science in fall 2019 reported that the U.S. and Canadian breeding bird population dropped by more than one-quarter since 1970. According to New York City Audubon's Project Safe Flight, 90,000 to 230,000 birds die after colliding with glass each year during their migrations through New York City alone.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was also included and passed in H.R. 2. RAWA marks a major advance for wildlife conservation, providing $1.3 billion annually to state wildlife agencies and prioritizing conservation of species that are endangered or at risk of becoming endangered.