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“Glasswashing” vs Bird-safe Buildings

bird collision 1118

This angel impression is from a robin/dove? crash into 3rd story window

Have you noticed? There is a big trend toward “glasswashing” in the building industry these days. Just look around and you’ll see a lot of 2 to 20 story buildings covered with glass – thus the term “glass washing”. I don’t think it is a very interesting style of architecture. I would also think it’s not very good for energy efficiency – resulting in higher operating costs. Must be cheaper to build.

In addition to those questions, these glass covered buildings kill a lot of birds. As a result there is a big push to find ways to prevent birds from flying into these windows. The light at night and the reflections of blue sky during the day has lead to a billion birds dying per year from collisions with these buildings. We know these numbers because groups all around the country  actually go out and count the dead birds each morning.

So there is a growing push for bird proofing windows. Of course this is cheaper to do in the design/build stage than as a retrofitting effort. And yet it can be done and is being done – such as at the Howard County Conservancy. Here in Maryland there is a push to pass the Maryland Sustainable, Energy-Efficient, Bird-Safe Bulidings Act of 2019 to deal with this problem. Stay tuned.

Bird collisions are also a big challenge in residential settings especially ones with feeders. It’s not just an issue with big buildings – much of the damage happens at canopy level. We all need to retrofit our windows-at home and at work – to cut down on these negative impacts on the birds. The picture shown here is just one of several bird collisions that I have heard this fall. Look carefully at this picture – it is a dramatic angel-like image showing the wings and the body of a bird flying at full speed into a glass window.

This particular bird may have been a little impaired since the crabapples that have been planted all around our community parking lot are dropping their fermented fruit. It seems to be affecting the birds who are eating them in quite a frenzy. Unfortunately some of them end up flying into windows. I will need to treat my windows even more to reduce the carnage. You can too. You can get the necessary instructions and supplies from your local bird store or Audubon Society. It’s something we all can help with.


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