The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Protecting American Bird Populations from Collisions with Glass

Grant Information
Categories Environment
Location United States
Cycle Year 2021
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) American Bird Conservancy
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Lynne Mecum
Phone 540-253-5780
P.O. Box 249
4249 Loudoun Avenue
The Plains
Additional Information
Used for The funds will be used to reduce bird collisions with glass through legislation and ordinances, and by testing bird-friendly glass products to meet an increased demand. Our specific tactics include: passing the Bird-Safe Buildings Act; encouraging cities and states to require bird-smart building principles; and using two research tunnels to test bird-friendly glass products to meet the high demand from architects.
Benefits Bird collisions with glass are one of the most significant causes of bird mortality in the U.S., accounting for up to one billion bird fatalities each year. ABC works on multiple fronts to reduce bird collisions, from advocating for collision-reducing legislation and evaluating new glass products to educating architects, developers, and homeowners and much more. Our work will help save birds, educate people, and advance progress towards a future in which glass is no longer a leading threat to birds.
Proposal Description As ABC and our partners have made great strides in raising the alarm about bird collisions with glass, we have seen the demand for our services grow exponentially. This led us to a two-part strategy: first, we must continue to fight the threat of glass collisions by supporting legislation at the national level plus state- and city-wide ordinances; and second, we must rapidly scale up our own ability to meet the demand for ABC materials testing and training generated by these ordinances and laws.

Strategy #1: Reduce bird collisions with glass through legislation and ordinances.

First, we will work to pass the Bird-Safe Buildings Act. This bipartisan bill would reduce bird deaths by requiring that any new or significantly altered public buildings incorporate bird-friendly designs. By making this simple change, this legislation will protect endangered birds from dying preventable deaths. U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Act in May 2021. It now has 17 co-sponsors. Its companion bill was also re-introduced in the Senate. We must now work to acquire more co-sponsors with the hope of having the bill passed next year.

Second, we will promote city ordinances similar to the one New York City passed last year. The New York City ordinance requires new construction and major renovations of buildings across the city to include bird-smart building principles. This will help reduce hundreds of thousands of bird deaths that occur from collisions with buildings in New York City every year. The law went into effect after years of outreach, education, and advising from ABC and partners, and explicitly cites American Bird Conservancy’s ratings of materials as the standard to be used for new construction in New York City. The entire construction market for New York City now needs to use bird-friendly materials—a true game changer. This legislation drew attention across the country, and we now hope that we can convince more cities to follow suit. Using New York City as a model for the nation, we will promote similar ordinances in places such as the states of Maryland and California; and the cities of Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Strategy #2: Meet increased demand for ABC glass testing services.

Because the New York City legislation explicitly cites ABC’s ratings of materials as the standard to be used for new construction in New York City, this creates both an opportunity and a challenge, in that we must rapidly scale up our ability to test new materials and train more architects. We recently opened a second glass testing tunnel at Washington College’s Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory in Maryland, in addition to our existing tunnel at Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pennsylvania. These testing tunnels tell us how birds react to patterns on glass, information that is used to identify new glass and retrofit products that prevent collisions. We test birds' reactions to patterned glass by asking birds to decide whether to exit the tunnel via an “invisible” panel of plain glass or the patterned material being tested. A net safely stops the birds before they hit the glass. So far this year we have tested 31 bird-friendly glass products. However, we must test many more in order to meet the high demand from architects in New York City and around the country. We expect the demand to increase as more high-profile buildings announce their intensions to become bird-friendly, such as the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and Amazon’s new complex in Arlington, Virginia.