New Illinois law will protect birds from deadly building collisions

Though numerous states are receiving reports of a mysterious illness affecting songbirds, such...
Though numerous states are receiving reports of a mysterious illness affecting songbirds, such as blue jays (pictured), MDC says there is no indication of the illness affecting birds in Missouri. The public is still encouraged to be on the lookout for groups of sick and dead birds and report them to Department of Conservation)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:12 PM CDT
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ILLINOIS (WIFR) - 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 Gov. Pritzker signed the Bird Safe Buildings Act (HB 247), which requires a bird-friendly design to be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings in Illinois.

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.

“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.”

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 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.

Illinois joins Minnesota, New York City and several cities in California that have passed similar bird protection legislation.

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