March 01, 2013

Potential Legal Implications of Birds and Buildings

There has been a recent increase in news coverage and awareness of the large numbers of bird deaths due to collisions with buildings in large cities in North America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that building window strikes may cause between 96 and 976 million bird deaths in the United States each year. The New York Times recently reported that each morning, volunteers in the City of Toronto scour the sidewalks to remove bird carcasses because birds are attracted to lights inside buildings and reflections of trees and collide with glass windows. Bird collisions with building windows may implicate federal law because many of the birds that collide with windows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). With an increasing number of state and city governments addressing bird-safe building design, local laws are also a concern. Given the increasing amount of interest migratory birds are receiving from environmental groups and increased regulation from cities in North America, it is unlikely that buildings will continue to fly under the radar (pun intended), and it is in the construction and real estate industries’ best interests to follow closely these developments.

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