A report estimates that one billion birds die each year across North America with countless more suffering injury after colliding with glass windows. (Black Press Media File)

A report estimates that one billion birds die each year across North America with countless more suffering injury after colliding with glass windows. (Black Press Media File)

Greater Victoria environmentalists call on municipalities to adopt bird-friendly design

An estimated one billion birds die each year across North America after colliding with glass windows

A report estimates that a billion birds die each year across North America with countless more suffering injury after colliding with glass windows.

This figure appears in a letter from Victoria Bird Strike Initiative and Safe Wings Ottawa to various municipal councils in the region including Sidney and North Saanich.

The letter written by Erin Dlabola of the Victoria Bird Strike Initiative and Willow English of Safe Wings Ottawa calls on Sidney to adopt bird-friendly building designs to curb future collisions.

“Collisions with windows are one of the biggest killers of birds in Canada, but can be avoided with simple design bylaws, such as those enacted in Toronto and other cities,” they write. A recent survey at the University of Victoria found more than 100 dead birds at only a handful of buildings, they write.

Dlabola and English said bird-friendly design does not mean getting rid of windows. “Instead, it reduces the risk windows pose by using patterned glass and exterior screens, and by using architectural features and landscape design techniques to reduce collisions,” they write.

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Bird-friendly design incorporated at the planning stage can be cost neutral and complement other design goals such as energy efficiency, while visual markers coupled with other products and techniques can make existing buildings safer.

This demand for changes to the urban environment appears against the backdrop of ecological changes.

According to Dlabola and English, North America has lost almost a third of its bird population in the past 50 years.

“Given its location on a major migration pathway, efforts to make the Victoria area safer for birds are essential for reversing this trend,” they write. “Greater Victoria is a birding hotspot with a large and very active community of people who strongly support bird conservation, from those with a backyard feeder to dedicated birdwatchers. In an area where tourism is a major source of revenue, protecting birds is important when they can attract visitors who travel from afar.”

Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s senior manager, long range planning, said the municipality has had bird-friendly design on its radar for a “while” with an eye toward future action. “We are intending to incorporate this concept into updated development guidelines that we will be developing over the next several months as part of a refresh of Sidney’s Official Community Plan.”

North Saanich also plans to take a look at the issue.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com