Tuesday, July 21, 2020

For the Birds

Several times a week we hear an ominous “thunk” sound which tells us that yet another bird has flown into our front window. I don’t have any scientific evidence, but I think it has happened more often since we changed the color of our drapes from multicolored stripes to pale blue. I have been pondering whether that change in color has made our window appear more like “sky” to neighborhood birds.

We don’t think these incidents are fatal in our case (very small yard, no bird bodies) but I know they can be. Years ago I worked at a school in downtown Baltimore whose second floor was flanked on both sides by tall windows. I was regularly tasked with scooping up the remains of misbegotten birds off of the preschool playground before the children might happen upon them.

All of this serves as an introduction to this news:

Now this bill doesn’t pertain to my front window, or yours, and for the most part it won’t be applied retroactively. From the article:

“What [the bill] really is referring to is these big, glass buildings today that literally threaten the existence of birds because birds fly into the glass, unable to realize that it is glass, and they are dying by the millions as a result of these big, glass buildings,” said council Chair Deb Jung, who introduced the legislation.

Similar legislation was brought up in the Maryland State legislature in 2019, I believe, although it didn’t get any traction. I remember a discussion about this on Episode 54 of Elevate Maryland with Roughly Speaking’s Mileah Kromer and Luke Broadwater. I seem to remember that some legislators didn’t take this topic at all seriously.

Birds don’t vote, it seems. If they could they’d more than likely echo the concern of ecologist Mark Southerland, who testified that more than 1 billion birds die every year and there are 29% fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada than there were 50 years ago. It’s hard to believe that some Maryland lawmakers played this for laughs.

Even if this legislation hasn’t yet succeeded at the state level, I’m glad we are taking it seriously in Howard County. A shout-out to Council Chair Deb Jung and members of the council for making this happen.  

A sympathetic, although humorous, take on this phenomenon was written by James Thurber in the piece, “The Glass in the Field.” In his fable, the moral is:

He who hesitates is sometimes saved.

In Howard County birds can be thankful that there was no hesitation to do the right thing.

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