Legislation to Reduce Bird Collisions Reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter
Expert Contact: Dr. Christine Sheppard, Director, Glass Collisions Program, 914-261-8277 | csheppard@abcbirds.org

Birds such as the Canada Warbler fly into reflective glass because they confuse mirrored trees and other habitat for the real thing. The proposed legislation will reduce this threat. Photo by Ray Hennessy

(Washington, D.C., March 17, 2021) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) applauds U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for reintroducing H.R. 919 – Bird-Safe Buildings Act today. This bipartisan bill is designed to reduce bird mortality by calling for federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe materials and design features. As many as 1 billion birds a year die in collisions with buildings in the United States alone.

Congressman Mike Quigley has been the driving force behind this bipartisan legislation for more than a decade. “As more and more cities across the country, including Chicago and just this week Philadelphia, adopt policies and practices to prevent bird-building collisions, the federal government must step up and do its share,” said Congressman Quigley. “We can help set an example for the country and the world and prove that bird-safe building design is cheap, easy, and effective.”

"Over the course of the last 50 years, we have seen a tragic decline of more than 25 percent of birds in North America with climate change, habitat loss, and deforestation acting as the leading drivers," said Senator Booker. "With the Bird-Safe Buildings Act, we have an opportunity to prevent a substantial number of unnecessary bird deaths by incorporating low-cost bird-safe building materials and design features into our federal buildings."

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 bill would require the General Services Administration to apply similar bird-safe measures, where practicable, to all new and existing federal buildings.

The legislation would help address one of the greatest human-caused threats to birds, said Dr. Christine Sheppard, Director of ABC's Glass Collisions Program, who added:

“Last Congress, the House passed the Bird-Safe Buildings Act twice under the leadership of Representative Quigley. Reintroduction of this bipartisan bill is needed recognition that bird mortality from building collisions, estimated at up to 1 billion per year in the U.S. alone, is a serious contributor to bird population declines.

“This commonsense measure would direct federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe design and materials, reducing collisions and potentially saving the lives of millions of birds.”

Leading up to this heartening news, in December 2019, the New York City Council passed the country's most comprehensive bird-friendly buildings law. These advancements are coming not a moment too soon for declining bird species: A study published in Science in fall 2019 reported that the U.S. and Canadian breeding bird population dropped by more than one-quarter since 1970. According to New York City Audubon's Project Safe Flight, 90,000 to 230,000 birds die after colliding with glass each year during their migrations through New York City alone.

2014 study found that the widespread White-throated SparrowDark-eyed JuncoOvenbird, and Song Sparrow are among the species most commonly killed by collisions with buildings. The study also reported that several species of national conservation concern are especially vulnerable to collisions, including the Wood ThrushGolden-winged WarblerCanada Warbler (pictured above), Kentucky Warbler, and Painted Bunting. Fortunately, both home and commercial windows easily can be made safer for birds.

ABC thanks the Leon Levy Foundation and David Walsh for their support of ABC's Glass Collisions Program.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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