According to wildlife experts, birds cannot decipher reflections of sky and trees in glass structures. Birds fly into the structures, which annually account for anywhere between 100 million to nearly a billion bird deaths. About 50% of all bird-window collisions are fatal.
Highland Park mayor Nancy Rotering said that the city has not abandoned the concept of using bird safe glass, but will attempt to educate architects and contractors about the value of taking a conservation approach to new building projects. The issue of bird conservancy is important because Highland Park is a north-south migratory pathway for a large number of bird species in the Great Lakes area. The city’s proximity to water means that a large number of birds congregate in the area in the summer time.
The city’s Natural Resource Commission and the Plan and Design Commission both supported the proposal. Initially, the city had considered requiring developers to meet the bird friendly standards specified by the Green Building Council’s LEED certification program.
The city council heard evidence from other cities that have put bird-friendly glass requirements in place. Those cities include Oakland, San Francisco and Sunnyvale, CA and Toronto, Ontario. According to officials in those cities, the bird friendly glass requirements have not had a measurable impact on staff workload or even development plans.
A number of techniques are identified as “bird safe.” One of the most common is striping that is applied to windows no more than 10 inches apart. The pattern allows birds to “see” the building as a solid object. In addition, screens and other design elements that break up reflections can also decrease bird deaths.
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Photo Credit: Steve, via Flickr.com