Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings

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Standards for Bird-Safe Building

General Information

Adopted Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings
Standards for
Bird-Safe Buildings

(Updated 11-30-2011)

Design Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings
Design Standards
for Bird-Safe Buildings

(Published 6-7-2012)

The newly adopted Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings explains the documented risks that structures present to birds. Over thirty years of research has proven the risk to be “biologically significant” for certain bird species. Recent studies have determined that annual bird fatalities in North America from window collisions may be as high as 1 billion birds per year or 1-5% of all birds. While the facts are staggering, the solutions are within reach. The majority of these deaths are foreseeable and avoidable. The document summarizes proven successful remedies such as window treatments, lighting design, and lighting operation. The document proposes a three-pronged approach to the problem:

  1. establishment of requirements for the most hazardous conditions; ( pg. 28 of Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings )

  2. use of an educational checklist to educate project sponsors and their future tenants on potential hazards; and ( pg. 38 of Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings )

  3. creation and expansion of voluntary programs to encourage more bird-safe practices including acknowledging those who pursue certification through a proposed new program for “bird-safe building” recognition. ( pg. 33 of Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings )




San Francisco Bird-Friendly Monitoring Data

The Bird-Safe Standards are triggered during new construction, additions, and major window replacements, but the Planning Department would also like to encourage bird-friendly practices at homes and workplaces not in the development pipeline. It is with this goal in mind, that the Department is launching a Bird-Friendly Monitoring and Certification Program.

Learn more about the new Monitoring and Certification Program, and to participate and collect data for us use the survey form below.

Open survey in new window.

Document Links

Adopted Materials:

September 2011 Board of Supervisors Hearing Materials:

July 14, 2011 Commission Hearing Materials:

Bird-Safe Buildings in the Media:


Publications Cited in Draft Bird-Safe Buildings:

  1. Banks, Richard. 1979. Human Related Mortality of Birds in The United States. United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. Special Scientific Report--Wildlife No. 215.
  2. Bower, Joe. 2000. The Dark Side of Light. Audubon. Vol. 102(2): 92-94. LINK:
  3. Eisenberg, Anne. 2010. Warning to Birds: All-Glass Buildings Ahead. New York Times. Aug. 28, 2010. LINK:
  4. Gelb, Yigal; Nicole Delacretaz. 2009. Windows and Vegetation: Primary Factors in Manhattan Bird Collisions. Northeastern Naturalist. 16(3):455-470.
  5. Hager, Stephen, B., Heidi Trudell, Kelly J. McKay, Stephanie M. Crandall, and Lance Mayer. 2008. Bird Density and Mortality at Windows. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 120(3):550-564.
  6. Kay, Jane. February 23, 2009. San Francisco is a Bird Watcher’s Paradise. San Francisco Chronicle. LINK:
  7. Klem, D. Jr. February, 1990. Collisions Between Birds and Windows: Mortality and Prevention. Journal of Field Ornithology. 61(1): 120-128.
  8. Klem, D. Jr. February, 2009. Avian Mortality At Windows: The Second Largest Human Source of Bird Mortality on Earth. Proceedings of the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics. 244-251.
  9. Klem, D. Jr, Christopher Farmer, Nicole Delacretaz, Yigal Gelb, Peter Saenger. 2009. Architectural and Landscape Risk Factors Associated with Bird-Glass Collisions in an Urban Environment. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 121(1):126-134.
  10. Kousky, Carolyn. 2004. A Building Less Bright. Terrain Issue 15. Retrieved from: on 9/15/10.
  11. Longcore, Travis, Ph.D. et al. February 2005. Scientific Basis to Establish Policy Regulating Communications Towers to Protect Migratory Birds. WT Docket No. 03-187, Federal Communications
  12. McAdams, E. J. December 2003. Rebuilding Lower Manhattan: A Bird’s-Eye View. Presented by New York City Audubon to Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Retrieved from: on 4/22/11.
  13. O’Connell, Timothy. Fall 2001. Avian Window Strike Mortality at a Suburban Office Park. The Raven. Vol 72(2): 141-149.
  14. Ogden, Lesley, J. September, 1996. Collision Course: The Hazards of Lighted Structures and Windows to Migrating Birds. A Special Report for the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Fatal Light Awareness Program.
  15. Poot, H., B. J. Ens, H. de Vries, M. A. H. Donners, M. R. Wernand, and J. M. Marquenie. 2008. Green Light for Nocturnally Migrating Birds. Ecology and Society 13(2): 47. Retrieved from: on 9/15/10.
  16. Scriber, Brad. 2008. “Light Pollution”, “Ecological Light Pollution”, “Got Milky Way”, “Getting Back in Black”, “Nighttime Savings”, and “Lights and Safety”. Nat. Geographic Magazine (October 17, 2008). Retrieved from: on 9/28/10
  17. Smallwood, K. Shawn. 2010. Fatality Rates in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area 1998-2009. Retrieved at: on 9/29/10.
  18. United States Fish and Wildlife Service. January 2002. Migratory Bird Mortality: Many Human-Caused Threats Afflict Our Bird Populations