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For the Birds


Jeremi Swietochowski is in fourth grade. One day, he was playing with Legos when he heard a thump. A bird had hit his window. Jeremi went to check on the bird. “Just as I was about to open the door, it flew away,” he told TIME for Kids.

Not all birds are so lucky. Up to a billion are killed each year in the United States after flying into glass.

A pattern on the glass face of New York’s Javits Center helps prevent bird collisions.


“When birds see a reflection of habitat habitat WESTEND61—GETTY IMAGES the place where a plant or an animal normally lives (noun) The emperor penguin's natural habitat is in Antarctica. —to them, that’s just more habitat they can fly into,” Christine Sheppard says. She leads the glass-collisions collision ERIK ISAKSON—GETTY IMAGES a crash (noun) The two football players ran into each other in a collision. program at the American Bird Conservancy. She and others want to make buildings bird-friendly.

Bird-friendly design keeps hummingbirds and other feathered friends safe.


By Design

Birds are confused by habitat reflected in glass. They think they can fly through it.


There are three main ways to make a building more bird-friendly. One is to use less glass. Another is to wrap a building in a screen.

A third technique is to use special glass. This was done on the Javits Center. It’s a huge glass building in New York City. In 2009, the city decided to replace some of the glass. Metal panels were used. So were opaque opaque EMILY KEEGIN—GETTY IMAGES not allowing light to pass through; not see-through (adjective) She put opaque curtains on her bedroom windows so she could sleep late. and patterned glass.

The Orange Cube, in France, is bird-friendly. A screen keeps birds safe. But it doesn’t block the light.


Daniel Piselli is an architect. He worked on the project. He says that with glass, “the main thing is to put something on it that birds can see, so they’re not fooled by reflections.” Work was completed in 2014. Bird collisions went down by 90%.

Jeremi is also doing his part to stop collisions. He got permission to draw a grid on his window (see “Take Action”). It’s “visible visible STEVEN PUETZER—GETTY IMAGES able to be seen (adjective) On a clear night, stars are visible in the sky. for birds,” his mom says. “But it’s hardly noticeable for people.”

Take Action


You can make your home safer for birds. “Solutions can be applied on the outside of windows,” says Connie Sanchez of the National Audubon Society. Here are a few of them.

SCREENS They reduce reflection.

MASKING TAPE Place strips two to four inches apart.

ARTWORK Use tempera paint. Get creative!