by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Visitors to Southface Institute on Pine Street may notice some new, tiny dots adorning the glass on the building. These dots are special window treatments designed to prevent birds from flying into the windows, an all too common problem. The project was made possible thanks to a partnership between Southface and Georgia Audubon, with a grant from the Disney Conservation Fund.
The dots are a special CollidEscape film that reduces the transparency of the glass and breaks up reflection, preventing birds from flying into them. CollideEscape film has been applied to approximately 1,200 square feet of Southface’s exterior windows. Spaced two inches apart, the dots break up the reflection and alert birds that the space is not a clear flyway, causing them to stall and fly in a different, safer direction.
“In recent years, Georgia Audubon has been working with buildings and nature centers across the metro area to treat problematic buildings and protect migrating birds,” said Adam Betuel, director of conservation for Georgia Audubon. “Our goal is not only to educate people about the threat windows and reflective glass pose to birds, but also to show that there are many attractive solutions to make windows safer for birds.”
“Biodiversity in an urban ecosystem is vital and needs to be done responsibly. We are so appreciative of the work of Georgia Audubon and the opportunity to help showcase CollideEscape film. As a demonstration facility for emerging sustainability technology, the Southface campus is a perfect place to help educate the public on this important solution to protect birds in the built environment,” said Andrea Pinabell, President of Southface Institute.
Southface was chosen as a demonstration building because they were experiencing bird collisions and also because their high visitation rate presents a unique opportunity to educate the public on steps they can take to reduce bird-window collisions at home.
Southface is the sixth building to be treated by Georgia Audubon using grants received from the Disney Conservation Fund and from the Georgia Ornithological Society. Other buildings include the Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Chattahoochee Nature Center, the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center, and the Sawnee Mountain Preserve Visitor’s Center. Later this year, Georgia Audubon will install CollidEscape film at one additional Atlanta location.
Each spring and fall, millions of birds migrate between wintering grounds in Central and South America, the southern U.S., or the Caribbean to breeding grounds throughout North America. Sadly, many never arrive at their destination due to a man-made problem—building collisions. Attracted and/or disoriented by night-time lights or confused by day-time reflections of trees and grass in shiny windows, many birds become disoriented and fly into the buildings, ending their journeys and their lives prematurely. A 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranked Atlanta number four during fall migration and number nine during spring migration for the potential for bird-building collisions due to high numbers of birds being exposed to nocturnal lighting.
Georgia Audubon has been studying bird-building collisions in the metro area through its Project Safe Flight Atlanta Program since 2015. Since the program began, volunteers have collected more than 1,700 birds of over 112 different species that have perished due to building collisions. Since we only patrol a few limited routes during times of peak migration, we know that this is just a small sample of the number of birds that are actually perishing as they fly through the metro area, says Betuel.
In 2018, Georgia Audubon was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) as part of the Fund’s focus on reversing the decline of threatened wildlife around the world. The conservation grant recognizes Georgia Audubon’s efforts to reduce bird-building collisions throughout the metro area.
About Georgia Audubon: Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
About Southface: Southface has promoted sustainable development and green building through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance since 1978 under the governance of a board of directors. Over the years, our nonpartisan, data-driven organization has been a leader throughout the Southeast in sustainability. Each day, our staff and board continue to strive for a more sustainable future by educating the population and the market on resilient, resource-conscious lifestyles, researching cutting-edge technologies, advocating for clean forms of energy and working directly on projects to improve building efficiency and reduce the overall carbon footprint of the built environment.
Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive.