Smartlouvre Technology

Is your glazing killing birds?

Posted on 4th April 2023

Is your glazing killing birds?

Is your glazing killing birds…..and, by the way, also killing the Planet?

Every day we see images of spectacular new buildings with huge areas of glazing, getting bigger and bigger as building designs advance, yet in the UK alone well over a hundred million birds die from glass strikes every year (British Trust for Ornithology).

So why is ‘glazing’ so dangerous to birds and remember this danger doesn’t discriminate killing all types of birds both common and rare, indigenous and migratory, large and small.

Birdstrikes occur because, quite simply, birds have a hard time distinguishing between a structure and its reflection of the sky, in architecturally popular highly reflective, repetitive building envelopes. The reason is that reflections of vegetation, the sky, and other structures can be deceiving, resulting in bird collisions. Unlike humans, birds are unable to discern the position of the glass using visual clues such as window frames.

According to the American Bird Conservancy and the Smithsonian Institution, window strikes kill up to 1 billion birds in the United States each year. As already mentioned, the BTO estimates that over 100 million birds perish this way in theUnited Kingdom each year. This level of devastation, along with climate change and other causes, has resulted in an alarming worldwide loss of species and environmental deterioration.

In the US, there is specific legislation whereas here in the UK we are lagging far behind. Why is this? What are we doing about it?

In 2019, the Guardian published an article about this phenomenon, illustrating that these incidents don’t only occur during the daytime, but shockingly, most of them actually happen at night. It was found that the majority of birds migrating across the United States do so at night when the atmosphere is cold and quiet, and they frequently keep on straying through towns because the massive night sky light pollution deceives them. The theory behind this is that birds are attracted to light, so when they fly above a luminous town at night, they are naturally driven towards it not knowing that this could be a risky province for them.

So, this trend towards acres of glazing is causing several problems in one instance every much more fatal for the birds, but also damaging to humans and our climate.

Let’s deal with the actual ‘bird strike’ problem itself. How do we stop the birds from being deceived?

Some types of glazing, typically Avi-Safe by Pilkington help address this problem, and the good thing is that this glass is always in situ, unlike typical, so-called dynamic or retractable shading systems, which are of course rarely left in place, have to be retracted in even breezy wind conditions to avoid being damaged, are retracted at night and totally block outward vision for occupants when in use.

These shading systems are mainly installed upon the person’s or organization’s quickest and easiest default solution for heat block and glare problems. Little thought is given to how those shading systems and glazing which are being installed on buildings would affect the other living creatures. Protecting the planet is not only about managing climate change and reducing global warming but also conserving the wildlife from being killed or getting extinct is an essential priority to save the planet.

Quite a tragedy, right? Well, one solution for these issues isn’t the most complex, in fact, it is really rather simple and obvious but professionals need to know about it in the first place.

Birds need to witness a non-reflective figure on that building to understand that they can’t pass through. This is where the term bird-safe construction comes in place, where patterns are the solution for this problem. Birds will be able to tell that there is some form of barrier on the building if there are patterns or stripes, and they will not see any reflections of the sky. This is where the difference lies; creating visual noise with more panes and dividers prevents the collisions from occurring but without these visuals, birds won’t be able to spot the difference.

Since these strikes don’t just happen during the day but also at night because of Night Sky pollution, the simple solution is to find a product that ticks all the boxes

So, here at Smartlouvre, we have been taking the lead in reducing these tragic incidents for years.

Every building where our MicroLouvre® screens are installed helps avoid bird collisions whilst improving the Thermal, Visual and Environmental comfort of humans. Awareness of this phenomenon is not sufficient yet, and humans need to comply with the bird-safe construction standards to prevent species extinction.

Talking of Environment, we asked, at the very beginning of this article, ‘Is your glazing killing birds…..and, by the way, also killing the Planet? This sounds a bit extreme but we’ll deal with this in another article.

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