Thank you for publishing the Associated Press story about 1,000 migrating songbirds killed in one day in Chicago by flying into the windows of an exhibition hall (Oct. 10.) What happened in Chicago on that morning was an absolute tragedy. It has highlighted the problem of bird-glass strikes, estimated to kill up to one billion birds each year in this country.

Migratory birds die here in Portland, too. I volunteer with a group called BirdSafe Maine, a partnership between Maine Audubon, the Portland Society for Architecture and USM which monitors the streets of Portland for dead or injured birds during spring and fall migration. We’ve found hundreds of individuals and dozens of different species. We find them more often at buildings with a large amounts of glass, which tricks birds by reflecting open sky or vegetation.

Reducing the amount of reflective glass they encounter is the best way to keep birds alive. To help, BirdSafe Maine has drafted an ordinance based on similar measures in New York City and Washington D.C. (notably, not Chicago) that would require bird safe architecture for new commercial buildings in Portland. Builders could pick from a variety of specially designed bird-safe glass products, or simply use smaller windows or those protected by screens, mullions, or other options. Many buildings in Portland are already bird-safe without even trying. If we add to their ranks, we’ll avoid Chicago-like incidences in Portland forever.

Jill Osgood

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