The start of 2022 marked a positive beginning for birds in, and migrating through, Illinois. According to the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a volunteer conservation project, an estimated billion birds die and are injured each year in North America due to window collisions. A bird-friendly act was put into effect in Illinois on January 1, 2022, in hopes of lessening the number or bird fatalities.
“I am proud to have passed a common-sense and cost-neutral bill that will reduce bird deaths,” says Illinois state representative Bob Morgan. “Chicago is the deadliest city in the U.S. for bird migration, but with these simple adjustments, we have made Illinois a safer place for birds.”
On January 25, 2021, Morgan filed the Act where it faced necessary amendments, earned new sponsors and was the subject of some debates within the House and the Senate until it landed on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. On July 23, 2021, Pritzker signed the Bird-Safe Buildings Act (HB 247), which requires bird-friendly designs to be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings. The Act requires each state building constructed, acquired, or of which more than 50% of the façade is substantially altered to meet specified standards concerning bird safety.
The Act explains the standards for 90% of façade materials from the ground level to 40 feet of a structure should use secondary facades, netting, screens, shutters and exterior shades to mitigate bird collisions and not obscure vision from inside. The glass used in this part of the façade must be opaque, etched, stained, frosted or translucent. If not, it has to be “ultraviolet (UV) patterned glass that contains UV-reflective or contrasting patterns that are visible to birds, patterns on glass designed in accordance with a rule that restricts horizontal spaces to less than 2 inches high and vertical spaces to less than 4 inches wide.”
To areas of the façade above 40 feet, 60% of the exposed material must follow these standards. Additionally, there cannot be any transparent corners and any glass adjacent to atria or courtyards containing water features, plants and any other materials that birds could find attractive must also meet the standards.
According to the Act, “the requirements… shall only apply to State buildings under the management or control of the Department [Bureau of Property Management], but does not include buildings leased by the Department.”
The legislation also allows the director of the Bureau of Property Management to take necessary actions to ensure bird mortality is monitored at each state building. Additonally, it does not apply to buildings or sites listed, or eligible for listing, on the National Register of Historic Places; the Governor’s Mansion; the state’s Supreme Court Building, the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, Ill.; the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois State Capitol Building.