Tip Sheets

FLACO Act essential to prevent bird strikes, combat population declines

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

With the death of beloved Eurasian eagle-owl Flaco in New York City, there is an increased focus on the dangers of building strikes for birds, as well as renewed efforts to enact the Bird Safe Buildings Act in New York, now renamed the “FLACO Act.”

Andrew Farnsworth

Research Associate

Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, studies bird migrations and how science, technology, and community action can make buildings safer for birds. He says birds striking buildings is a primary source of bird population declines and should be addressed.

Farnsworth says:

Every year collisions kill a quarter million birds in New York, and up to a billion in the U.S. - that’s 30 birds every second - probably more given that these estimates are more than a decade old in some cases.

“Non-essential light from buildings attracts and disorients birds in and to areas where they collide with glass surfaces. Untreated, reflective and transparent glass reflects the sky or vegetation during the day or appears to be a clear path through which birds can fly, and birds are unable to perceive the glass as a solid surface and collide with it. Eliminating unnecessary light and treating glass offer proven solutions to mitigating this component of the alarming bird population declines in the last 50 years.

“Flaco’s unnecessary death in a collision with a building is one more reminder that the built environment is an unforgiving place for many animals. Whether escaped from a zoo or part of the 3-5 billion free-flying birds on the move every spring and fall, collision is a major source of bird mortality. Flaco captivated New York and global communities for over a year and this attention that connected people to Flaco can connect people to birds, to their plights in natural and artificial environments, and hopefully to what we can do to protect all of these. The combined legislative effort is an important and essential step to addressing this aspect of a primary source of bird population declines.”

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