Home, fatal home
We’ve all heard the “thud” of a bird hitting a window pane. We know that foreboding sound, the quick glance up, then the sinking sensation as we go outside to look for a small feathered body. That is when the drama of bird mortality hits home. In the moment it’s an isolated incident, a memento mori that reminds us to cherish our own fleeting lives, but zoom out, take a step back, and you’ll see the same small tragedy playing out against windows across the world.
Bird-to-glass collisions claim up to a billion lives in North America every year, making glass one of the deadliest threats to avian populations. Of those deaths, single-family homes claim 36%. Small detached houses and cottages carry over a third of the mortality rate, in part because these dwellings are so numerous that they’re inevitably in the way of more birds.
The use of glass has increased over the years with transparent railings and larger windows used in the housing market, creating more confusing reflections for birds and claiming the lives of well-known species like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Over the last three decades, FLAP Canada (Fatal Light Awareness Program Canada) has worked with government and local communities to reduce fatal bird-to-glass collisions. With that goal in mind, FLAP founder Michael Mesure has participated in the development of numerous Canadian and US guidelines, standards and legislation designed to help mitigate this leading cause of bird death. In recent years, industry and governments have taken the initiative to reduce bird-to-glass collisions. The use and application of local legislation is a huge step forward. Yet it’s not the end of the story, as we can easily anticipate new legislation that will hold homes to the same ecological standards as commercial structures.
Bird mortality hits home more and more every year. Bird-window collision with single-family dwellings continues to grow as a major conservation concern across North America, and it is only a matter of time before bird-friendly legislation extends to homes and cottages.
Bird mortality hits home. Bird-friendly glass can help.
Thanks to FLAP Canada for the information and image in this article.
FLAP Canada is dedicated to safeguarding migratory birds in the built environment through education, policy development, research, rescue and rehabilitation.