Birds do not understand glass the way that humans do that is why they often fly direct to the window glass with fatal circumstances. In order to help with bird conservation, all the exterior windows of the new Bell Museum of Natural of Natural History and Planetarium are made from custom patterned glass.
Custom patterned glass has line or patterns that are screen printed on the surface of glass to avoid deadly collisions from birds that cannot differentiate glass from their natural habitat. According to the results of a 2014 study made by Smithsonian Migratory Birds Center and the US Fish and Wildlife, at least 365 million to 988 million birds die each year from collisions with buildings in the US.
The designs that have been incorporated into the glass used for the Bell Museum will ensure that birds will see glass as a solid object that they should not fly to. Less than 30% of the Bell Museum is made from glass and is very prominent on the large expanses in the lobby and the two story-box windows on the museum’s second floor. If measures are not undertaken, these glass windows would be very hazardous for birds.
However, the installation of the new custom patterned glass has its share of challenges. The right frit patterns must be identified and low reflectivity glass types must be effectively sourced. The project must also meet the guidelines of Audobon and Minnesota Sustainable Building requirements.
Meanwhile, there are really no hard and fast rules when it comes to making a building bird-safe. It is not only the type of glass that will be used but the effects on interior and exterior lighting including the landscape design. For the Bell Museum, incorporating patterned glass was easy because the project has collected data from citizen science volunteers that have monitored the environment and bird-collision events.
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