Collision with buildings is the second-most common human-related cause of bird mortality. Under provincial and federal laws, it is the responsibility of building owners to ensure that their buildings do not harm or kill birds.

The NCC manages federal lands in the National Capital Region, and has a vast real estate portfolio. For this reason, we have a responsibility to address the issue of bird collisions.

As part of our Sustainable Development Strategy, we have created Bird-Safe Design Guidelines.

Context

Urban development puts more and more pressure on wildlife habitat. It is estimated that, in Canada, collisions with glass structures kill 16 million to 42 million birds a year.

The problem is that birds are unable to recognize glass as an impermeable surface. As a result, birds may strike windows when they try to reach the habitats on the other side of the glass or habitats reflected in it. Light from buildings and outdoor light fixtures also poses a problem, as it can attract birds into urban areas, increasing the likelihood of bird–building collisions.

About the guidelines

The NCC’s Bird-Safe Design Guidelines aim to reduce the risk of bird collisions. They offer best practices for building, lighting and landscape design on federal lands in the National Capital Region. They also address the issue of bird-safe design for heritage buildings and sites.

These guidelines were developed with input from FLAP Canada and Safe Wings Ottawa. They are in line with the Canadian Standards Association’s Bird-Friendly Building Design standard (A460:19).

Application of the guidelines

These guidelines are intended to be applied to all projects that involve glass, lighting or landscaping around buildings on federal lands in the National Capital Region. But they can also be applied to all types of buildings in any region.

We welcome the use of the guidelines by all stakeholders. Together, we can help reduce bird collisions.

Documents