Making Your Building Bird-Friendly During Migration

By Jeff Popp|September 20, 2013

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, up to a half a billion migratory birds are killed across North America each year as a direct result of colliding with windows on buildings.

 Photo courtesy of Albemarle Corporation[

Photo courtesy of Albemarle Corporation[

Many bird populations are already suffering from loss of habitat and other human-made threats such as agriculture, development, climate change, and invasive species. These populations cannot afford to decrease further due to an issue with such simple fixes like making your building bird friendly.

Window collisions by birds occur mostly in urban areas where buildings are high and close together. Birds are visual creatures and therefore visualize their habitat around them as they fly from tree to tree and seek cover or resting spots. These images look the same to birds when reflected in windows on buildings and birds often cannot make out the glass surface until it’s too late.

At night, lights left on inside a building create false flyways for birds, especially when they can see indoor plants and trees that they believe could potentially provide safe cover at night while they rest in between flights. Keep this in mind when planning both interior and exterior lighting systems. Overall, simply turning the lights out at night in rooms with exterior windows will significantly reduce the number of bird strikes of your building.

Photo courtesy of Unimin Corporation

Photo courtesy of Unimin Corporation

In an effort to reduce this statistic, General Motors has committed to reducing bird strikes at their Detroit world headquarters by asking tenants to close their blinds and turn off the lights at night from now through November. This is a great example of how Wildlife Habitat Council corporate members are taking wildlife conservation to the next level and saving energy at the same time!

As we continue to develop and use our natural resources, we increase our impact on the natural environment. We all have a responsibility to try and minimize our negative impacts and find ways to incorporate ecological approaches to planning, designing, and building the places in which we live and work.

Making a building bird-friendly is as simple as providing birds with the visual cues they need to alert them to the presence of glass and reflective building exteriors. Architects, developers, building owners and managers have a corporate responsibility and a prime opportunity to influence the designs of new buildings, and to upgrade existing buildings to be bird-friendly. Colliding with buildings is a human-made obstacle that can easily be resolved–literally overnight.

For more information and tips on how to make your building bird safe, visit the Fatal Light Awareness Program.

Read more WHC blogs.