Lake County Board Passes Bird-Friendly Building Design Policy Requiring Reflective Glass

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Bird Migration Map with Mississippi Flyway in blue (SOURCE: US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Bird Migration Map with Mississippi Flyway in blue; Migratory bird flyways in North America, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Public Domain (SOURCE: US Fish & Wildlife Service).

The Lake County Board approved a new policy that will keep the safety of birds in mind on all newly constructed and renovated Lake County government-owned facilities. The primary aim of the policy is to mitigate hazards for birds posed by the building environment, particularly from collisions with glass surfaces.

The policy, which went into effect today, May 14, 2024, requires newly constructed Lake County government-owned facilities to use at least 80 percent bird-friendly glass on their exteriors from ground level to 100 feet high. If Lake County renovates or adds on to one of its facilities, then 80 percent of the glass and reflective materials utilized in the project must be bird-friendly as well.

“As many as one billion birds are potentially killed by collisions into buildings every year in the United States. I’m proud of our Board and staff for being leaders on this issue that will truly make a difference for our resident and migratory birds that live or pass through Lake County.”

— Sandy Hart, Lake County Board Chair

Lake County lies within the Mississippi Flyway, one of major bird migratory routes in North America. According to Birdcast, a service managed by Colorado State University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, more than 30 million birds have crossed the region thus far this spring. On any given night, hundreds of thousands of birds pass through the area.

The Mississippi Flyway is a bird migration route that generally follows the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Lower Ohio Rivers in the United States across the western Great Lakes to the Mackenzie River and Hudson Bay in Canada. The main endpoints of the flyway include central Canada and the region surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The migration route tends to narrow considerably in the lower Mississippi River valley in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, which accounts for the high number of bird species found in those areas, according to John M. Smith (Autumn bird watching along the Mississippi Flyway).

Typically birds use this route and other migratory routes because no mountains or ridges of hills block the path over the entire length of the migratory flyway. However, tall buildings can be fatal obstructions for migratory birds. Good sources of water, food, and cover exist over the entire length of the Mississippi Flyway, and a significant amount of North American migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use the Mississippi Flyway.

“Bird-friendly design is so important for us to incorporate into structures in Lake County. We are situated in a major migratory bird flyway. We must find ways to reduce the numbers of birds killed in building collisions. Bird-friendly design is entirely affordable and achievable. Our County is once again leading the way and we hope that municipalities, other counties, businesses and residents will join us and adopt bird-friendly practices in the near future.”

— Paul Frank, Lake County Finance and Administrative Committee Chair and Board Member for District 11

The Lake County Planning, Building, Zoning and Environment (PBZ&E) Committee also gave the green light at its last meeting to move forward with a proposed ordinance for bird-friendly design requirements on new construction and renovations on non-residential properties and non-residential planned unit developments (PUDs) in unincorporated Lake County. The ordinance is expected to be voted on for adoption by the Lake County Board on June 11.

“The Lake County Board and staff have been working on a bird-friendly design ordinance for several years. Taking accountability for our own government buildings is the first step; next we will consider a revised ordinance for commercial buildings. Each year, these actions will save the lives of an increasing number of birds, who are such an important part of our ecosystem.”

— Jessica Vealitzek, Chair of the PBZ&E Committee and Board Member for District 10

The Lake County Board continues to put a strong emphasis on protecting and enhancing the natural environment through its strategic plan. Learn more about the County’s sustainability efforts at



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