By Special To The Washington Post · Erin Blakemore
Birds vs. glass
Turns out that glass-covered buildings in modern cities can become graveyards for migrating birds, leading to hundreds of millions of bird deaths each year. Under pressure from conservation groups, architects and local governments are increasingly tweaking building codes to protect birds from hitting buildings.
This month, the New York City Council passed legislation that puts birds into its building code. It requires new construction and newly altered buildings to incorporate specially treated glass on the lowest 75 feet in an attempt to reduce the number of bird strikes.
As more and more buildings incorporate glass, the number of bird crashes has grown. According to a 2014 study, up to 599 million birds die every year when they hit buildings.
Most of the species at risk are migratory - and they crash because they cannot see glass. As they cruise toward reflections of trees, resting places or even themselves, birds court disaster. (Steady lights attract and confuse them at night, too.)
One notoriously bird-unfriendly building, New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, reduced bird deaths 90% when it incorporated glass with patterns during a 2015 renovation, according to the Audubon Society. A statewide bill to establish a building council to promote similar guidelines was recently vetoed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
New York isn't the first city to adopt bird-friendly building rules: San Francisco has had similar standards since 2011, and the American Bird Conservancy says bird-friendly design is becoming recognized as part of sustainable design.
Even if you don't live in a skyscraper, you can help protect birds from your windows. According to the American Bird Conservancy, 46% of bird crashes per year happen at homes, even ones with small amounts of glass.
To help, you can apply tempera paint to your windows, apply patterns of opaque tape or special translucent bird-smart tape, hang external screens or opt for vertical blinds indoors. Decals can help, too, with a caveat: You need a lot to deter birds. They should be spaced no more than two to four inches apart.
Want information on bird-friendly building? Visit Collisions.abcbirds.org.