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Ottawa proposes bird-friendly design guidelines


November 13, 2020
By Ottawa.ca

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The City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee has approved design guidelines to help keep birds from colliding with buildings. Bird-safe design features have been scientifically proven to lessen the risk of collisions, reducing bird injuries and deaths.

The proposed guidelines, which are based on a review of similar policies in other major cities, address the design of buildings, lighting and landscaping. During planning and design, applicants would need to:

  • Consider the environmental context and surroundings
  • Minimize the transparency and reflectivity of glass
  • Avoid or mitigate design traps, such as glass passageways or corners that are invisible to birds
  • Consider non-glass structural features that might pose a hazard
  • Create bird-friendly landscaping
  • Design exterior lighting to minimize light spill at night
  • Minimize nighttime light spill from inside the building

Birds striking buildings is the second biggest human-related cause of bird deaths in Canada, after domestic cats. Safe Wings Ottawa estimates that such collisions kill about 250,000 birds in Ottawa every year, with houses and low to mid-rise buildings responsible for 99 per cent of collisions.

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