Thursday, March 5, 2015

Largest City in Northern California to Adopt Bird-Friendly Building Guidelines

Robert Johns, 202 888 7472,
Shani Kleinhaus, 650 868 2114,

(Washington, D.C. and Cupertino, CA, March 5, 2015) -- San José, the capital of Silicon Valley, has become the fourth and largest California city to enact bird-friendly building guidelines. Previously, ordinances were adopted by San Francisco in 2011 and Oakland in 2013, while guidelines were adopted by Sunnyvale in 2014.

“Without question, bird collisions are one of the most significant causes of bird mortality worldwide. It’s a problem that is probably escalating every year,” said Dr. Christine Sheppard, Birds Collisions Campaign Manager for American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and one of the world’s leading experts on the issue. 

San José Environmental Services Department (ESD) staff have developed a factsheet and checklist that provide information on bird-safe design and outline voluntary bird-safe building measures, such as recommendations to:

  • Reduce large areas of transparent or reflective glass.
  • Avoid transparent glass skyways, walkways, and entryways, as well as free-standing glass walls and transparent building corners.
  • Avoid the funneling of open space toward a building façade.
  • Strategically place landscaping to reduce reflection and views of foliage through glass.
  • Reduce or eliminate up-lighting and spotlights on buildings.
  • Turn non-emergency lighting off at night, especially during bird migration season (February-May and August-November).

In Silicon Valley, companies such as Facebook and Intuit are applying bird-friendly frit to glass windows and facades in their new campuses.

While bird conservationists have long known that a large number of birds are killed each year by glass, the issue of fatal bird collisions gained national attention following release of the most comprehensive study of its kind, the peer-reviewed, “Bird–building Collisions in the United States: Estimates of Annual Mortality and Species Vulnerability.” The study was authored by federal scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It found that between 365 and 988 million birds are likely killed in the United States each year as a result of collisions with buildings.
Some species seem disproportionately vulnerable to collision with buildings.  In San José, vulnerable species include: Anna’s Hummingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Lesser Goldfinch, Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, American Robin, and Cooper’s Hawk.

In July 2014, Dr. Kleinhaus submitted an opinion letter that was published in the San José Mercury News titled, “Birds and glass: San José can prevent needless deaths of birds with building rules.

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