Avian Allies: Companies Focus on Bird-Friendly Glazing Solutions

Bird-friendly glass has become a big focus for many companies in the architectural glass and glazing industry— and not without reason. Up to a billion birds die in the U.S. annually from striking glass.

By now, most in the glass industry know the concern: birds can’t see glass. According to Dr. Daniel Klem, a United States ornithologist known for his research into the mortality of birds due to glass, birds strike windows because they fail to recognize them as obstacles.

“Sheet glass and plastic in the form of windows are invisible to them … all 10,500 species the world over,” says Klem. “Of course … we are not them [birds], and we never will be, so the best we can do is interpret what we measure their visual systems to perceive (their tools) and their behavior.”

He continues, “Based on my observational and experimental data over these many years, birds behave as if they do not see clear and reflective panes. They try to reach the perceived habitat and sky behind clear or illusions reflected into mirrored panes. Collisions occur wherever birds and windows coexist, further supporting and validating these general interpretations.”

To alleviate the issue, companies have developed a range of products to help deter bird strikes. These range from etched and coated glass to interlayers and even films.

Walker Glass: New AviProtek Solutions

Walker Glass has added two new patterns to its AviProtek bird deterrent product lines. The visual markers of the latest patterns, 226 and 227, are acid-etched on the first surface of the glass. They are available on regular AviProtek bird-friendly glass or AviProtek E with a Solarban low-E coating from Vitro Architectural Glass on surface two.

Patterns 226 and 227 comprise scattered patterns of 5-mm squares. Both are non-linear and multi-directional, eliminating the need for pattern alignment. With markers covering less than 1% of the glass, the company says the two offer clear sightlines wherever the glass is installed.

Both designs meet the 2-by-4 rule for bird deterrence, which stipulates that spaces between pattern markers must be no more than 2 inches tall or 4 inches wide. In addition, 226 meets the imperatives of the 2-by-2 rule of spaces between markers being no more than 2 inches in either direction.

Glass Coatings and Concepts: Surface One Protection

Glass Coatings and Concepts has a new product line called EX Series Surface One Ceramic Enamel, a product containing frit design for surface one application. Side 1 features visual markers to prevent bird-to-glass collisions. The products can be screenprinted and are delivered ready to use. The company offers simulated etched, white and custom color-matching capabilities for glass designs, and samples are available upon request. www.gcconcepts.com

Kuraray: BirdSecure

Kuraray’s Advanced Interlayer Solutions (AIS) business recently introduced its BirdSecure Pro interlayer as a bird-friendly glazing solution. The new interlayer protects buildings against bird strikes while being aesthetically pleasing to humans. The product is available in both Trosifol PVB and SentryGlas.

The ionoplast version also can be combined with the corresponding interlayers to provide additional benefits such as acoustic or structural properties.

HEGLA boraident: Laser Marking

The Laserbird technology from Hegla boraident allows companies to apply a bird-friendly pattern to the glass’s exterior (surface one). The semi-transparent dots have a diameter of between 5 and 9 mm at a distance of 50 to 100 mm from each other. The dots are light- and weather-resistant, colorfast and scratch-resistant. Functional laser printing can also modify light dispersion and provide protection in both the UV and visible light ranges, which makes approaching the glass unattractive to birds, according to the company.

There are various glass qualities with different coatings and bird protection patterns tested by the American Bird Conservancy. The tested samples achieved Threat Factors of between 13 and 27. A value of 30 or lower is required to be classified as bird protection glass, according to Hegla.

GlasPro: Bird Safe UV

Bird Safe Ultraviolet Reflective (UV) glass from GlasPro is visible to birds but highly transparent to the human eye, enhancing the visual experience. According to the company, Bird Safe UV glass has an American Bird Conservancy (ABC) Threat Factor of 21 and exceeds the ABC’s minimum standard for effective collision deterrent materials.

Feather Friendly and Seen Ag Announce Partnership

Feather Friendly has partnered with Seen Ag out of Switzerland to distribute their Seen Elements technology. Seen Elements are a light-reflective metallic marker with a neutral back. The Seen Elements have been tested scientifically since 2019 at the Biological Station Hohenau-Ringelsdorf/Austria flight tunnel.

D.C. Law Requires Bird-Friendly Glazing in Many Buildings

Under the Migratory Local Wildlife Protection Act of 2022, new construction building permits or alterations involving the replacement of all exterior glazing on Washington, D.C., commericial buildings, multi-unit residential buildings, institutional facilities, or District-owned and operated buildings issued after Oct. 1, 2024, need to include bird-friendly materials up to 100 feet. This does not include historic landmarks and single-family homes.

The bill was introduced to the D.C. Council in March 2022, and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill in January 2023. It became effective on March 22, 2023.

“We know that bird-friendly glass used in construction could prevent the needless death and injury of millions, if not billions, of birds,” Rep. Mary Cheh (D) wrote in the legislation’s introduction. “The District can do its part by prohibiting unsafe building materials that put birds and other migratory wildlife at greatest risk.”

Buildings also need bird-friendly materials on all glazed corners and fly-through conditions above 100 feet. Additionally, the exterior wall envelope and any other fenestration installed adjacent to a green roof system or roof terrace need to include bird-friendly materials up to 24 feet above the roof system and terrace. The law also ensures that all bird-hazard structures be constructed with bird-friendly materials throughout the building, regardless of height.

The legislation defines a bird-hazard structure as monolithic glazing installations that provide a clear line of sight or mirrored surface on the exterior of buildings. This includes awnings, handrails and guards, windbreak panels, bus shelter enclosures, skywalk enclosures and acoustic barriers made of glass or glass-like materials.

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