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Portland's New Resource Guide for Bird-Friendly Building Design

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Portland’s new Resource Guide for Bird-Friendly Building Design – First Edition (July 2012) is the culmination of collaborative work between Audubon Society of Portland, the City of Portland and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), with funding from USFWS’s Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds Program.

Built landscapes can pose unique hazards for birds, and collisions are known to be a significant cause of death for them. Window collisions are a top source of bird mortality. Birds are also attracted to artificial light, which can lead to collisions with buildings or death by exhaustion. Research indicates that up to one billion birds die as a result of window collisions in the United States every year.   The Audubon Society of Portland has collected data indicating that bird collisions are a concern here in Portland as well.

  BFBG Cover  

Bird-friendly building guidelines have already been developed in San Francisco, New York City, Toronto, Chicago, and Minnesota to help architects and developers incorporate bird-friendly elements into their design approaches. Bird-friendly design can meet multiple objectives.  For example, window patterns can reduce transparency and exterior reflections which attract birds, while also reducing solar heat gain, providing privacy, and creating branding opportunities.

Portland’s new Resource Guide for Bird-Friendly Building Design is a customization of a template guide produced by the American Bird Conservancy.  Portland’s resource guide reflects input from a number of local architects who reviewed early drafts. The guide presents practical approaches to reduce risks to birds, with a focus on exterior glass and lighting design, and also provides tips for homeowners.  The guide includes numerous photos and graphics featuring examples from Portland and other cities. The guide also provides information about the new pilot LEED credit for bird-friendly design (Pilot Credit 55: Bird Collision Deterrence).

More than 100 architects, builders, planners and designers and bird enthusiasts attended a recent forum at KEEN headquarters in Northwest Portland on June 14, 2012, to learn about bird collision issues and the new resource guide. Over the summer, staff from Audubon and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability also briefed the Portland Design Commission and the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The Design Commission supported the voluntary approach and continued efforts to build awareness about bird-friendly building design in the development community. The PSC also expressed support for the voluntary resource guide and passed a motion supporting further integration of bird-friendly building design opportunities through the Comprehensive Plan Update and other city programs.

For more information please contact: Roberta Jortner, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, 503-823-7855, Roberta.Jortner@portlandoregon.gov

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