One of the perils facing migratory birds is collisions with buildings. Estimates on how many birds die annually from collisions with buildings vary widely but, in the United States, it is certainly more than a million and possibly as many as a billion. Now there is a partial solution to this problem working its way through Congress: the Bird-Safe Buildings Act.
The Brid-Safe Buildings Act requires each public building constructed, acquired, or substantially altered by the United States Government to meet certain standards designed to prevent bird collisions. The Act requires the use of bird friendly materials, including restrictions on the use of glass and the type of glass used. The Act passed the House in early July and now must be approved by the United States Senate.
The Act also would supply federal agencies with a design guide, helping to ensure that bird-safe design techniques and materials — like patterned glass — are effectively applied to all federal buildings purchased, built, or significantly altered.
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 Act would require the General Services Administration to apply similar measures, where practicable, to all new and existing federal buildings.
The Act would also promote smarter lighting practices, decreasing light pollution, saving energy, and averting nighttime collisions. The Act is designed to be cost neutral and would be carried out with no additional cost to tax-payers.
The Act would not solve the problem of migratory birds colliding with buildings. The United States government does, however, manage nearly 10,000 buildings. Even if it does not solve the problem, making nearly 10,000 buildings more bird friendly is a big step forward.