Making big city skies safer for birds

An estimated 90,000 birds are killed each year in collisions with the glass-clad skyscrapers of New York City alone. Multiply that number times all U.S. cities with glass skyscrapers and the number grows exponentially. 

Most birds have fatal run-ins with tall buildings during their annual migrations, confused by the lights and reflections in the glass.

Today's New York Times looks at the issue and the inventive ways some building owners have come up with to deal with a very tricky problem.

At least one city - San Francisco - is considering an ordinance setting avian protective standards for buildings and a federal bill is under consideration that would require all federal buildings be bird friendly.

In New York City, a number of building owners have voluntarily created their own anti-collision strategies such as netting and installing darker, less reflective glass. (We have found at home that pasting silhouettes of hummingbirds on large glass panel windows helps reduce collisions. We even had a live hummingbird come over and communie with the stencils one day this summer.)

In addition, New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto participate in an Audubon Society iniative called "Lights Out" to encourage owners of tall buildings to turn off the lights after midnight

We do not know whether Philadelphia has put in place any bird safety measures or even keeps count of the bird-facade collision deaths.

(Photo: Benjamin Norman/New York Times)