Bird collision reduction legislation reinstated in the US House of Representatives

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) welcomes U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for reintroducing HR 919 – Bird-Safe Buildings Act. This bipartisan bill aims to reduce bird mortality by requiring federal buildings to include bird-safe materials and design features. In the United States alone, up to 1 billion birds die each year in collisions with buildings.

Congressman Mike Quigley has been the driving force behind this bipartisan legislation for more than a decade. “As more cities across the country, including Chicago and Philadelphia just this week, adopt guidelines and practices to prevent collisions in bird breeding, the federal government must do its part,” said Congressman Quigley. “We can help set an example for the country and the world and prove that bird-proof buildings are cheap, simple and effective.”

“Over the past 50 years, we have seen a tragic 25 percent decline in the number of birds in North America, with climate change, habitat loss and deforestation as the main drivers,” said Senator Booker. “With the Bird Safe Buildings Act, we have the ability to prevent a significant number of unnecessary bird deaths by incorporating inexpensive bird-safe building materials and construction features into our federal buildings.”

Canada Warbler, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries

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

The legislation would help address one of the greatest human-made threats to birds, said Dr. Christine Sheppard, director of the ABC Glass Collision Program, added:

“In the last Congress, the House passed the Bird Safe Buildings Act twice under the direction of Representative Quigley. The reintroduction of this bipartisan law is needed to recognize that bird mortality from building collisions, estimated at up to 1 billion a year in the US alone, is a serious contributor to bird population decline.

“This sensible move would direct federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe design and materials, reduce collisions and potentially save the lives of millions of birds.”

Ahead of this encouraging news, New York City Council passed the most comprehensive bird-friendly building law in the country in December 2019. These advances are not coming too early for declining bird species: A study published in Science in the fall of 2019 found that breeding bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by more than a quarter since 1970. According to New York City Audubon’s Safe Flight project, 90,000 to 230,000 birds die every year during their wanderings through New York City alone after colliding with glass.

A 2014 study found that the widespread white-throated sparrow, dark-eyed junco, oven bird, and song sparrow are among the species most commonly killed by collisions with buildings. The study also reported that several types of national conservation issue are particularly prone to collisions, including the wood thrush, golden-winged wood warbler, Canada wood warbler (pictured above), Kentucky wood warbler, and painted bunting. Fortunately, both residential and commercial windows can easily be made more secure for birds.

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