Portland is situated along the Pacific Flyway, a broad migration front that brings 209 species of both migrant and resident birds into our airspace. Though many of them are likely to stick to the forested uplands that flank the Willamette Valley, others are drawn into our urban landscape where they face an insidious hazard that is everywhere in the built environment: window glass.
It is estimated that up to a billion birds die annually as a result of window strikes in the US alone, a mortality rate second only to habitat destruction. Here in Portland, our Wildlife Care Center brings in 200 to 300 window strike-related cases each year, or roughly 10% of the total case load. In order to get a better sense of the magnitude of this problem, Bird Safe Portland Citizen Science surveys started in September of 2009, with an Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife grant. To date, we have logged nearly 20 different species of native birds from our surveyed buildings, still only a shadow of the nearly twice as many species that come into the Care Center after hitting a window.
In 2011, we received a $10,000 Together Green grant from Toyota and National Audubon Society to continue our surveys and to launch a LIGHTS OUT PORTLAND program. (Read the Warbler article) LO Portland is an effort to engage buildings in voluntarily turning off of unnecessary overnight lighting during spring and fall migration season. But buildings are not the only culprits in the window strike conundrum: residences comprise the bulk of windows across the landscape in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Find out what you can do to reduce strikes at your house.
BirdSafe Portland programming is an effort to make good on Portland’s 2003 Treaty with USFWS to protect our native bird species by:
- Customizing American Bird Conservancy's template Bird-Friendly Building Design Guide for use in Portland. Bird-Friendly Building Guidelines are already in place in Toronto, NYC, Chicago, Minnesota.
- Lobbying for adoption of a Model Light Ordinance in Portland for responsible lighting design (developed by International Dark Sky Association and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, currently in draft)
- Incorporating Bird-friendly criteria in the BHCP
PARTICIPATING BUILDINGS Ardea, Atwater, Meriwether, Riva, OHSU, John Ross, the Fox Tower, Good Samaritan Hospital, Indigo 12W, Koin, the Ladd, the Eliot, Wells Fargo, USBancorps Tower, Metro, USFWS, the State of Oregon Building, and 1201 Lloyd/Integra.
- Sign a petition in support of bird-friendly building design for federal buildings
Bird-friendly Building Guidelines
Bird Safe/Lights Out Programs