Bird-Friendly Communities

Bird-friendly Buildings

Making Our Built Environment Safer for Birds

Photo: University of Pennsylvania

The increased use of glass in our modern buildings, including large expanses of highly-glazed or ultra-clear glass, presents a serious hazard for birds. Most birds don’t perceive glass as an obstacle. Instead they see the things they know and need, such as habitat and open sky, reflected in the glazed surface or on the other side of one or more panes of glass.

Birds hit buildings at all hours during the day and night. At night migrating birds can be distracted by bright lights in our cities. During the day the problem is reflection or other confusing aspects of glass.

Audubon chapters, centers and programs across the country are working to make buildings safer for birds - both day and night. 

Lights_Out_NASA_Earth_Observatory
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

Lights Out

Artificial lights and skyglow around buildings can be fatal to migrating birds. Some are casualties of nighttime collisions with windows and walls. Others circle in confusion until dawn, when they land and are subject to other urban threats. This issue impacts hundreds of species, including priority species like the Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, and Seaside Sparrow. Lights Out is a national effort to reduce this problem by working with building owners, managers, and residents to turn off unnecessary lights during periods when they are most likely to affect migrating or nocturnal birds. Learn more about Lights Out and how you can be part of the solution.

Solutions for Glass Surfaces

During daylight hours, shiny glass exteriors, internal plants near windows, glass corners, and greenery close to buildings can all be deadly as birds are unable to distinguish reflection from open flyway. Window collisions are one of the leading direct human causes of bird mortality, with a recent study estimating that up to one billion birds are killed annually by building collisions in the U.S.  Birds need strong clues on or around glass to warn them that it’s there. Learn more about the solutions you can take here to reduce reflective surface collisions.

Collidescape at Chattahoochee Nature Center Photo: Atlanta Audubon Society
“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.