My father was a man who really loved good design.

He paid attention to the small details: the way a door handle felt when grasped, the balance of a coffee pot as it was lifted to pour, the line of a fender on a car going past.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Dad managed to pass his love of design and architecture on to all four of his daughters. It is one of those always-present conversation threads in our family. We have some strong opinions and a few favorite creators, too. One of mine is Philip Johnson and “The Glass House.”

Do you know it?

You probably do. It is one of the most famous works of architecture in the world, and it sits just down the road from us in Connecticut. You can even tour it now that it is a museum.

It is a simple structure, a basic rectangle set low on the ground with a flat roof and, as the name implies, all four walls made entirely of glass. I’ve always thought this was one of the most beautiful structures ever created, and yet every time I look at it, my admiration is tinged with anxiety. I can’t help but wonder about bird strikes – and it appears I am not alone.


A 2019 article in Architect News highlights the efforts of several architecture firms to have the standard glass replaced with bird-friendly options. I couldn’t find any recent updates on their effort, but I wish them luck. Meanwhile, right here at home, L.L. Bean is building new spaces and incorporating bird-friendly designs from the very start. I am so thrilled!

According to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald, “Bird strikes on windows cause an estimated 365 million avian fatalities a year, making it a leading cause of bird mortality, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Think about that: 365 million birds. Every year.

Solutions have ranged from setting out fake owls to scare small birds away to those formerly ubiquitous “silhouettes” of a bird of prey that we all taped to the inside of our windows. At least, I know I put up my fair share, but was never really sure they did much. Maybe? I hope so. Probably not, though.

Thankfully, technology has advanced quite a bit. According to the Audubon Society, bird-friendly glass options now include a “variety of approaches, such as fritting, silk-screening or ultraviolet coating, to create a pattern that breaks up the reflectivity of the glass and alerts birds to its presence.” Most of these you don’t even notice. Looking out, our eyes read it as just plain glass, but to a bird, it makes it obvious that it is not a space they can fly through. They avoid it.

The same options available to large corporations are available to us if you are in the market to upgrade or replace your windows. If, like me, you are seeking a smaller, more budget-friendly, bird-friendly solution, has a host of information, as well as links to suppliers of films and glass appliqués that are surprisingly affordable.

Ultimately, good design is about how it improves the lives of those using it. It seems a no (bird)brainer then to use this tech to make our homes easier on the wildlife around us. It makes life better.

L.L. Bean, I doff my cap to you, whilst crossing every finger that The Glass House sees your move and follows suit. Vive les oiseaux!

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