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Audubon Great Lakes Celebrates Passage of the Bird Safe Buildings Act into Law
Black-and-white Warbler Photo: Jessica Nelson/Audubon
ILLINOIS (July 29, 2021) – Up to 1 billion birds die each year from building collisions. Last week, Illinois took an important step to minimize the impact of our built environment when Governor Pritzker signed the Bird Safe Buildings Act (HB 247), which requires bird-friendly design to be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings in Illinois.
“The migration of birds is one of Illinois’ great natural spectacles. Too often, however, these incredible journeys that can cover thousands of miles are cut short when birds crash into buildings,” said Kristin Murphy, Government Affairs Associate for Audubon Great Lakes. “By making simple adjustments to new Illinois state building projects, this new law will help mitigate the unnecessary deaths of countless numbers of migrating birds every year.”
Collisions with human-made structures is a leading cause of bird deaths in the United States. A recent independent study found that Chicago is the deadliest city in the United States for migrating birds due to a combination of light pollution and geography. Over 250 different species migrate through Chicago alone, about five million individual birds in all. Between 2005 and 2014, volunteer bird monitors collected over 26,000 dead birds in the Chicago Loop, including one banded Black-and-white Warbler from Ontario, Canada who died from a collision on its sixth migration from Central America through Chicago, well short of its 11-year life expectancy.
Incorporating bird-friendly design can significantly reduce collision deaths – for example, a new study found that turning off just half of the lighted windows during spring and fall migration could reduce bird deaths on Chicago’s lakeshore by 60 percent, while updating the Javits Center in New York reduced collisions by 90 percent.
This new law will require the use of bird friendly construction techniques for all new construction or renovation of Illinois state-owned buildings. At least 90 percent of the exposed façade material on new state buildings will be need to be made of glass that helps stop bird collisions. It will also require that, when possible, outside building lighting is appropriately shielded to protect wildlife.
This legislation also empowers the Director of the Bureau of Property Management to monitor bird mortality at each State building and report on the issue as needed.
There’s a growing political push to make more buildings bird-safe. Illinois joins Minnesota, New York City, and several cities in California who have passed similar bird protection legislation. On the federal level, US Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) of Illinois reintroduced the bipartisan Bird Safe Buildings Act this year.
Audubon Great Lakes thanks Rep. Bob Morgan (D-IL58) for his leadership in introducing the Bird Safe Buildings Act (HB 247) and helping to create a safer future for Illinois’ birds, and those who enjoy them across the state.