Window crashes, also known as bird strikes, kill millions of birds with *every* migration. You might not think it happens to you, but it does. And we can stop it.
When I was in Toronto this week, I saw a newly constructed glass building in the new West Don Lands area that used bird-friendly glass, with dots impregnated into the glass every 8-10 cm (ideally, though, it should be every 5 cm). Birds need to see that the reflective glass is not “air to fly through,” so interruptions or obstructions in the reflected light are necessary.
The Corktown Common park was a joy to visit. It has a constructed wetland that they seeded well with native species. It has reeds, duckweed, and native water fleur-de-lys, making it a wonderful habitat for birds. I only wish it were larger, but that it is so accessible to wandering humans means they have a chance to see nature they won’t otherwise see. It whets the appetite for the real thing.
I saw a nesting red-wing blackbird that was feeding his young ones. Or, more like, I saw him arrive with food, heard the cacophony of chirps, and then saw him fly off to get more.
On the walk to the park, we also saw a lone swan nesting, or resting, by the viaduct. It was strange to see that in a “no-man’s-land” off the eastern part of downtown, but as always, it was welcome.
Though we need to carry out bird-friendly design (and leaving some places alone to be wild) everywhere, Toronto bylaws require bird crash prevention – new buildings need to have bird-friendly glass. Toronto is in the middle of a flyway. Vancouver, too, has a new standard, as reported in Canadian Wildlife Magazine:
There’s a push to make bird-friendly design a provincial or general building standard in some provinces, but it’s only just beginning. With all the glass buildings being constructed, it’s almost as if developers are in a rush to make money and damn the consequences before the standards are in place. Retrofitting is always more expensive and “optional.”
The standard to bird-friendly architecture already exists – builders and renovators should do it by default! You can find it here: Bird-Friendly Building Design – American Bird Conservancy. It’s a continuing education credit with the American Institute of Architects and with the Green Building Council.
Your guide to retrofitting windows:
Your guide to everything to stop birds from hitting windows is at this link from the American Bird Conservancy: https://abcbirds.org/glass-collisions/
Crash prevention amounts to using visual cues, mainly dots, decals, strings, and UV solution at frequent intervals across the window so that the bird can see it. (And if you have trouble installing it yourself, I will help you.)
One ready-made solution you can order online from Santa Rosa National, and install in little time (even if you MacGyver it): two rods with brackets and fishing filament between them, at intervals that birds can see – and you can’t.
Here is a guide about what DOES NOT work:
In 2014, I found this Canada Warbler around 8:30 AM one morning outside the iconic blue-mirrored Windsor Salt building in Pointe Claire. I blogged about it then. That blog post evolved into this blog post. They too need to fix their windows and landscaping.
I’m sure many more birds are found every day (if they’re not snapped up by scavengers first). Though Montreal isn’t directly in a flyway, glass buildings kill more birds than should ever have been permitted.
American readers, you can support Audubon and the push to standardize bird-friendly building measures and standards in this action alert for the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act. Building collisions kill millions of birds each year. A new bill would help reduce deadly collisions by incorporating bird-safe building materials and design features into federal buildings. What people then get used to seeing can become the norm across all commercial buildings.
If you appreciated this blog post – though really, it’s not enjoyable to see a dead bird, so I won’t feature them in my newsletter – subscribe to my mailing list. I want to raise enough awareness to get people to install bird strike prevention kits on their windows so I’ll always keep this stuff public for the world to stumble upon.