Bird mortalities caused by collisions with clear glass deck railings.

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Greenwood

Most people are aware of the dangers of windows to birds, but all too often we forget about other architectural uses of glass, such as glass railings.  The toll on local birdlife can be extensive as birds cannot perceive glass. Glass railings are especially dangerous, as birds see the vegetation beyond and attempt to fly-through with disastrous results.

In the spring of 2021, CWHC Atlantic has received numerous reports of bird mortality related to glass railings. The incidents happen in both urban and rural settings. Even if homeowners do not witness the collisions firsthand, the chances are their railings are still causing mortalities as very often birds will fly off after the impact to die of injuries elsewhere, or the body may have been scavenged by a predator before it is found by home owners.

The information below was provided by FLAP Canada in their blog written by John Carley on October 1, 2020. Here is the link:

How to prevent bird collisions with glass railings? 

The best solution, when planning your residential project, is to select a railing style other than glass.  Select a non-reflective material to form panels or railings; wood or metal are the preferred choices.

Bird-safe glass railings at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. Photo: Garth Riley

An effective means of preventing collisions with glass railings and windows is to incorporate visual markers, closely spaced, on the exterior surface of the glass. An overlay of dots, stripes, or patterns at approximately 2”x 2” (50mm x 50 mm) spacing can be placed on the glass. The glass itself could be etched or patterned using the same spacing.  Items that can be used are decorative window decals or felt markers specific for glass use. This will alert an approaching bird that these railings are obstacles to be avoided. Grid patterns or stripes are the most common.

It is estimated that up to a billion birds a year are killed in North America due to collisions with buildings and architectural elements. Avoiding the use of glass railings is the best approach, but making your glass railings bird-safe is a simple and easy task. Both solutions have a great environmental pay-back.

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Submitted by: Fiep de Bie – CWHC Atlantic

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