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Commissioner Dan Saltzman wants to improve 'bird friendly design' standards: Portland City Hall Roundup

By Andrew Theen
The Oregonian

Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Audubon Society of Portland want to encourage more bird-friendly design in the City of Roses.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman wants to improve 'bird friendly design' standards: Portland City Hall Roundup

The Portland metro area is a heavily-trafficked flight pattern for many species of migratory birds. The Audubon Society of Portland believes the city could use clearer guidelines for helping create bird-friendly designs. (Doug Beghtel/The Oregonian)

Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Audubon Society of Portland want to encourage more bird-friendly design in the City of Roses.

Put a bird on it? Not exactly.

"We want to keep a bird from crashing into it," Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, said.

It, meaning any building, window, home or other structure that could prove deadly to our avian friends.

Saltzman will introduce a resolution Wednesday to encourage adopting bird friendly design guidelines and standards across the city's plans and policies.

If adopted, Portland would join Chicago, New York, Toronto and other metropolitan areas that already use both regulatory and voluntary guidelines to protect bird populations.

"Portland thinks of itself as a cutting edge city," Sallinger said. "This is part of being cutting edge."

Collisions with buildings and windows kill scores of birds, particularly migratory birds, every year according to Sallinger. 'Nobody knows the true number," he said, but it likely in the millions globally.

It's a sickening sight to see birds striking glass panes, Sallinger said. But there are some simple things cities can do to protect birds, such as adding shades to exterior windows and by creating etching and other visual cues to differentiate between surfaces prone to confusing the animals.

Several cities adopt a "lights out" policy in central cities to protect migrating birds. The animals are attracted and distracted by the bustling lights of a downtown, Sallinger said. "The lights draw them in,” he said, and they often get disoriented from a trance like state.

Many architects already work with the Audubon society already, he said, to limit consequences for bird populations. The hope is now more architects will work with the city, and home owners and developers will look to retrofit homes to protect wildlife when possible.

Sallinger stressed that the resolution is purely educational and voluntary. "We're not requiring anybody to do anything," he said.

But there are inherent energy saving costs in bird friendly designs too. Plus, he said, you may be able to see the sky at night.

The council will discuss the resolution at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

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