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New York City Will Require Bird-Friendly Glass on Buildings

Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds smash into the city’s buildings every year. The city council just passed a bill to cut back on the carnage.
Birds fly in front of the Lower Manhattan skyline on a cloudy day.
Birds fly in front of the Lower Manhattan skyline on a cloudy day.Stephanie Keith/Reuters

A dense city like New York can be a dangerous place for birds: Each year, up to 230,000 birds collide with its buildings, and many die as a result, according to estimates from New York City Audubon. In an effort to avoid many of those deaths, lawmakers just made the city one of the largest in the U.S. to pass bird-friendly legislation.

In a 41-3 vote on Tuesday, the city council passed a bill that will update the building code with design and construction requirements aimed at making buildings safer for migratory birds. It will require exteriors on the lowest 75 feet of new buildings, and on any structure above a green roof, to have avian-friendly materials such as patterned glass that make transparent surfaces more visible to birds flying at full speed. The bill doesn’t include a mandate to retrofit existing buildings, but requires any future renovations to comply with the standards, which are set to take effect in December 2020.