Sunday, March 14, 2010

Legislation introduced to modify glass structures on Federal property

Email received from American Bird Conservancy:


Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,

Proposed Legislation Would Prevent Millions of Bird Deaths

(Washington, D.C., March 10, 2010) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) – the nation’s leading bird conservation organization – today applauded legislation introduced by Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) yesterday (March 9, 2010) that will help prevent the deaths of millions of birds that collide with windows at thousands of federal buildings across the country.

The bill, HR 4797 calls for each public building constructed, acquired, or altered by the General Services Administration (GSA) to incorporate, to the maximum extent possible, bird-safe building materials and design features. The legislation would require GSA to take similar actions on existing buildings, where practicable. The terms “bird-safe building materials and design features” are defined through reference to several publications addressing those topics.

“This legislation will absolutely save the lives of millions of birds that mistake objects reflected in window glass, such as habitat and sky, as real. The reflection of a tree limb looks just like a real tree limb to a bird,” said ABC President George Fenwick.

“I am proud to build upon the work we did in Cook County to promote bird-safe building and spearhead an initiative at the national level that will make sure our tall buildings are not safety hazards. This bill will not only save millions of birds’ lives, but it is also completely cost neutral,” said Congressman Quigley.

“Anyone who has ever spotted a cardinal in their backyard or had watched a hummingbird fly backwards understands how beautiful and important our bird species are to the natural world. I’m proud to work with the American Bird Conservancy to do all we can to make sure they continue to be a part of that world,” Quigley added.

“Building collisions are arguably the single greatest man-made killer of birds. From three hundred million to one billion birds or more die each year from collisions with glass on buildings – from skyscrapers to homes. While this legislation is limited to federal buildings, it’s a very good start that perhaps can lead to more widespread applications of bird-friendly designs elsewhere,” Fenwick added.

This bill can also be a source for greater implementation nationwide of “Lights Out” campaigns. Under certain conditions, such as clouds or fog, night migrating birds fly lower and can by “trapped” by light, especially on tall structures. We don’t know why but birds are reluctant to fly from light into darkness. Once caught by lighting, birds either collide with the structure or circle it for hours until they drop from exhaustion – easy prey for cats, raccoons, or other predators or scavengers. “This legislation provides the authority for implementing actions that would reduce the number of lights that are wastefully left on, which will save energy and money, as well as birds,” Fenwick added.

The legislation proposed by Congressman Quigley is very similar to legislation he sponsored in 2008 when he was Illinois Cook County Commissioner. That legislation was approved unanimously by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

ABC is the only national level organization to develop a program to reduce mortality from collisions and has also been promoting legislative solutions as well as voluntary ones, across the US.

According to ABC, Americans spend about $36 billion in pursuit of birding activities. One in five Americans - 48 million people - engages in bird watching, and about 42 percent travel away from home to go birding. Birding activities generate about $4.4 billion in federal tax revenues and about $6.2 billion in state tax revenues, support about 670,000 jobs, and provide $28 billion in employment income.

American Bird Conservancy ( conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Red Knot latest news

a note received from the Jamaica Bay Bay keeper on endangered Red Knot shorebird species: