Our magnificent birds, small and large, are on the move to winter habitat in Central and South America and the Caribbean. As many of you know, we are logistically on the Atlantic Flyway route. It’s a wonderful journey, but too many of them will never reach their destinations. They will collide with glass windows and die.
There are two bird migration cycles during the year, spring and fall; we are at the beginning of the fall period, which will end in November. Unfortunately and sadly, the new developments in our community by Cornell Tech and Hudson Related feature great quantities of reflective glass. Birds will fly towards false images of trees or sky in the reflective glass surfaces of buildings.
I strongly urge these developers to add bird-friendly features to existing and future structures such as essential additions like exterior decorative grills and/or fritted glass, which is patterned glass. A terrific example is the recently renovated Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which was transformed from one of the deadliest structures for birds into one of the most hospitable. The building used to be the largest bird killer in NYC. Recently, more than 6,000 translucent panels have been installed, decreasing bird strikes to one or two a year, according to the New York Audubon Society.
North America’s migratory birds are facing a tremendous decline in population due primarily to loss of natural habitat, poisoning through pesticides, and most terribly, collisions with buildings. Every year, nearly a billion birds are estimated to be killed after slamming into buildings covered in reflective glass in the US.
How can we help save birds’ lives? Birds, much like humans, do not necessarily perceive clear glass as an obstruction, so we have to make our windows visible to birds. Draw your blinds during migratory seasons; keep your plants away from the windows; turn off unnecessary interior lights at night; if possible, hang ornaments in your windows; use decals and space them no more than every 4 inches horizontally and 2 inches apart vertically; or draw streaks with a highlighter (you will not see it but the birds will) or with a bar soap; after the migration, it can be easily washed off.
Should a bird hit your window, gently pick it up and place it inside a paper bag or a small cardboard box with small air holes. Do not offer the bird food or water. Place the bird in a quiet location away from people and pets. Contact the Wildlife Freedom Foundation as soon as possible. These simple measures, along with large-scale ones, can help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the magnificent wildlife we are lucky to have and observe now.
President & Founder, Wildlife Freedom Foundation