Feather Friendly Skies Keep Birds Alive: Bird Window Film

Bird flying by a glass building demonstrating the importance of bird window film

Ever run into a sliding glass door? It didn’t feel good, did it? Now imagine being a bird, soaring along the horizon … and BAM! Not a way to go, if you catch our drift? We are facilitating feather-friendly skies here at NGS.

Did you know that we have lost almost a third of our bird population in the last half-century? There are almost 3 billion fewer birds now than there were in 1970.  Habitat destruction is a major culprit, although not the only issue. But there is one aspect of bird loss that we can better prevent. Birds flying into glass buildings. The solution is referred to as bird safety window film. Here’s what you need to know.

Avian window collisions

It turns out glass buildings can be a collision hazard for birds. A single building can cost the lives of a hundred birds in a mere year, particularly in large cities. Now, think about how many buildings we have worldwide!

It doesn’t matter if the building has clear glass or reflective window film. Birds fail to comprehend that there is a structure there instead of the sky that they are seeing as they fly. Hence, the need to help them discern between a building reflecting the sky and clear glass.

The New York City Audubon has been monitoring these incidents since 1997 through Project Safe Flight. They determined that along with turning off lights, modifying windows can also prevent bird deaths. This is becoming more of a priority across the country. As exemplified in the 2019, New York City passed a bill that required bird-friendly materials, such as dotted patterns or tinted glass, on the lower 75 feet of all new buildings. Annually, between 90,000 and 230,000 migrating birds die from collisions with glass in New York City alone.

Currently in progress is a national Bird Safe Buildings Act that would require any new or significantly altered federal buildings to use bird-safe designs to counteract avian window collisions. The current legislation(s) to counteract this issue exemplifies the need and possibility of counteracting the loss in our bird population. There is no time to lose in implementing preventative measures.

Feather friendly® markers

There are numerous options of bird safety film. However, one manufacturer stands out in the fight for bird life. Since Feather Friendly® Technologies inception in 2006, the company has worked diligently with numerous avian agencies to create innovative technologies in an effort to save the lives of thousands of birds each year. It turns out that patterns of dots let the birds know that the “coast is not clear”! Consequently, they can change direction and prevent an accident.

The markers are available in numerous prints from Affinity to Serenity. Each design varies, yet meets the requirements recommended by avian agencies to warn from impending danger. Additionally, these markers cover only about 8% of the glass. They were designed to compliment the aesthetics and view from the building(s) applied to. Moreover, the life expectancy of these markers is 12 to 15 years. That’s a lot of bird life saved. And definitely feather friendly skies!

A success story

A new report from Portland Audubon and the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services shows that the application of a striped bird-safe film to window glass at the Columbia Building in North Portland resulted in a 94% decrease in bird window collisions.

The Columbia building opened in 2014. It features floor-to-ceiling windows on the north side. Building occupants immediately noticed birds colliding with windows. Subsequent monitoring showed a minimum estimate of 125 collisions per year, resulting in an estimate of up to 96 avian mortalities annually.

The building was retrofitted in October 2017 with a full-coverage horizontal line patterned window film applied to the exterior of the windows. Post-retrofit monitoring yielded a 94% reduction in the strike rate at this building with a post-retrofit estimate of 7.5 collisions per year. That’s quite the positive impact.

Feather friendly skies

“Just like people, birds will run into glass if there are no visual clues that it’s there, but effective solutions do exist.” said Dave Helzer, Terrestrial Biologist for the Bureau of Environmental Services. “We’re thrilled that, with support from experts at Audubon, we were able to find a solution that helps protect declining bird populations.” We are happy too, Dave.

If you have questions regarding bird safety film, feel free to contact NGS. We would be honored to guide you through the process of restoring our bird population. After all, friendly skies should be for everyone… and every bird.

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