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Bird-safe Buildings

Reducing bird collisions with windows.

Building Reflection - Jeri Blocker
Building Reflection - Jeri Blocker

Window Strikes

Portland is situated along the Pacific Flyway, a broad migration front that brings more than 200 species of both migrant and resident birds into our airspace. Window glass on homes, buildings and highrises poses a ubiquitous and deceptive hazard for birds in the built environment. It is estimated that each year up to 1 billion birds die as a result of window strikes in the US alone. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - mary coolidge

In a study from 2009 to 2012, Portland Audubon volunteers documented 37 native bird species as window strike victims. During that same time period, our Wildlife Care Center logged 68 species of birds that had collided with windows. Birds are accustomed to flying through small spaces and perceive reflections as continuation of habitat; they simply do not recognize glass as a solid object. Collisions can occur anywhere that unmarked glass is used — on large and small windows as well as reflective and transparent panes. All birds are at risk, not just the sick and old. 

How Residential Owners Can Reduce Window Strikes at Home

Approximately one half of window strikes occur at residential houses and one half at low-rise buildings while less than 1% occur at high-rises. There are steps that each of us can take on our own homes to help save the lives of birds. Visit our tips page to learn how you can reduce strikes at your house! You can also sign up for our Backyard Habitat Certification Program and have a certification technician visit your house to provide expert advice on landscaping with native plants and recommendations on minimizing bird strikes. 

Resources for Architects and Builders

For more technical resources for architects and builders, use our Bird Safe Buildings Toolkit and a resource guide for bird friendly building design.

LightsOut Portland

Most songbirds migrate at night and rely on the moon and stars to navigate. Light emanating from cities drowns out these natural cues and attracts birds into cities where they face deadly and deceptive building glass. Lights Out Portland is an effort to engage residents and building owners in carefully considering lighting options and voluntarily turning off unnecessary overnight lighting during spring and fall migration seasons. Going LightsOut will save energy, save lives and help us all see stars! Portland Audubon is working with building owners, city government, lighting designers and agencies to adopt the LightsOut program throughout the city. Learn more.


In 2015 the Portland City Council adopted a new Green Building Policy, requiring all city buildings over 500 square feet incorporate bird-friendly building and lighting design.

Beginning in 2011, Portland Audubon collaborated with the City of Portland, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservancy and local architects and designers to produce a 2012 Resource Guide for Bird-friendly Building Design, which provides guidance on how to maximize synergies between sustainability and design objectives with bird-friendly approaches for new construction, redevelopment, and retrofits. 

More Information

Portland Audubon resources: FAQs | Bird-safe building design in Portland | Tips For Reducing Strikes At Home | Toolkit for professionals

Bird Safe/Lights Out Programs: Portland | Toronto | NYC | Washington D.C. | City of Chicago

Portland's Green Building Policy, which incorporates bird-friendly building and lighting design.

For more information, see our Bird-Safe brochure or contact Mary Coolidge at mcoolidge@audubonportland.org

Window strikes in Portland, video by Portland State University:

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