Taking Steps toward Bird-friendly Commercial Construction

With its sweeping vistas and some of the highest peaks in the eastern United States, East Tennessee residents and visitors relish in the region’s natural beauty. This landscape is also home to diverse avian wildlife from blue jays and cardinals to brown thrashers and mockingbirds.

In more densely populated areas, birds face heightened risks – especially from the deceptive appearance of glass and the influence of lights that attract some birds to these more populated areas at night. According to Sibley Guides, window collisions cause the deaths of up to 1 billion birds annually.

Wildlife and construction don’t always go hand in hand, but with advances in bird-friendly construction and design, contractors are more conscious than ever about using methods to protect them.

Mitigating Risks Posed by Glass

Glass is, of course, key to commercial construction. Areas like glass around courtyards and on the first 40 feet of buildings pose the greatest threats. There are several improvements that can be made during the design-build process and to retrofit existing buildings to make them safe for birds.

  • Glass treatments – Etching, screen printing, sandblasting
  • Signage – Signage and branding of commercial spaces
  • Window treatments – Exterior shutters, shades, nettings and awnings
  • Size – Most birds will avoid flying through horizontal spaces less than 2 feet wide and vertical spaces that are 4 feet wide

Paying Attention to Lighting

Artificial light plays a role in bird strikes on glass by causing them to become confused or collide with structures or the ground. The following can help counteract the negative effects of light.

  • Interior – Choose lighting that minimizes light spill
  • Sensors – Use lighting with motion sensors
  • Shields – All outdoor lighting should include shields

Leon Williams Contractors is committed to employing these design-build strategies to protect East Tennessee’s bird population and minimize the risk to these animals that add to the natural beauty of our home.


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