Every year, hundreds of millions of birds die in the US alone from collisions with glass. Birds strike glass as they fly toward reflections of sky or vegetation or as they try to reach habitat seen through glass. Unfortunately, advances in technology that increase the use of glass curtain walls and other large glass features also increase the rate of bird mortality. However, we now have materials that can make buildings safe for birds without sacrificing light, appearance, or view clarity. In 2011, San Francisco became the first US city to require bird-friendly design for some new construction. Since then, over 30 jurisdictions at levels from state to town—notably New York City in 2019—have legislated bird-friendly construction, and more are pending. Christine will discuss some of the latest solutions, including techniques for evaluating the relative threat level of different materials.
Christine Sheppard has a BA and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University. Her first job was at the Bronx Zoo, where she eventually became curator and chair of the Ornithology Department. In 2007, she joined the board of the Bird-Safe Glass Foundation as science adviser, and in 2009, she became collisions program manager at the American Bird Conservancy where she co-authored Bird-Friendly Building Design. She helped create San Francisco’s Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings and was part of the team that developed a USGBC LEED innovation credit for reducing bird mortality.