Buildings and Birds
I like birds. I like watching them and learning about their different characteristics and behaviors. Birding gives me a chance to get outside, in any location, and “see what I can see”. It’s basically a free, unlimited scavenger hunt! Did anyone see the movie with Owen Wilson a few years back called “The Big Year”? I couldn’t believe they made a movie about birding. Birders are experiencing a rejuvenation!
My love for birds is generally at odds with trendy, glassy buildings, and with my love of sunny indoor spaces. I like buildings with glass to let the outdoors in, and I want this glass to be energy efficient, which generally means it gets some sort of reflective coating. Birds, however, do not like this. They see trees, sky, open fields…whatever is REFLECTED in the glass, and fly towards those spaces only to find a solid, invisible-to-them barrier.
To be honest, birds AND people might smash their noggins into the above building!
But never fear! As Architects, we can design buildings to help the birds. Angling glass slightly downward will throw off the reflection enough to cause a bird to think twice, and glass companies even make glass with a special “bird-safe” UV coating visible to birds, but not humans. We can also use fritted or patterned glass, sunshades, or a whole gamut of other fun options.
Birds may not be everyone’s first thought when renovating their downtown shop or building a new apartment building, but it is part of protecting our environment and is becoming more of a concern as stylistic trends change (think new World Trade Center complex in NYC, see below).
Soon, requirements for considering the birds in building designs could be implemented in the US. Since 2010, developers in Toronto have had to meet a set of bird-friendly standards called Birdsafe, and the city has greatly reduced their numbers of bird deaths. Keep scrolling and I have provided you with two nice lists of things you can do at home and your facilities to make birds safer in our built environment.
How to keep your workplace safe for birds: https://birdsafe.ca/workplaces-safe-for-birds/
How to keep your home safe for birds: https://www.audubon.org/news/what-does-bird-safe-glass-even-mean
I have seen every one of the below species in Kansas; you will probably recognize a few. Keep your eyes peeled!
None of the images are my own, nor do I own the copyright.
Written by Karen Klein - Partner and Project Architect at Agora Architecture