Bird Friendly Guidelines

What are Bird Friendly Guidelines?

Bird Friendly Guidelines offer design based solutions to make glass on buildings more visible to birds, in an effort to reduce bird-window collisions. The Guidelines will provide guidance for planners, architects, designers, and builders on available treatments which can be used to reduce bird strikes on both new and existing buildings.

Why do we need Bird Friendly Guidelines?

There has been growing awareness amongst Markham Council and staff regarding the issue of bird-window collisions. According to Dr. Daniel Klem, a prominent researcher on bird-window collisions in North America, bird strikes on buildings are the second largest cause of bird fatalities and injury, exceeded only by cats.

Markham has been active in creating bird friendly buildings through initiatives such as:

  • retrofitting existing municipal buildings (e.g., Markham Civic Centre, Fred Varley Art Gallery, 8100 Warden Avenue);
  • incorporating bird friendly design measures in new municipal buildings (e.g., Cornell Community Centre and the future South-East Community Centre); and,
  • encouraging best practices in private sector developments.

The development of Bird Friendly Guidelines for Markham is identified as a priority in the Greenprint - Markham’s Sustainability Plan (2011) and Markham’s new Official Plan (2013). With a large portion of Markham’s future growth anticipated to be in more dense urban centres, it is timely to develop more comprehensive guidelines to address and manage bird-window collisions over the long term.

Purpose of the Study

The City retained North-South Environmental Inc. to conduct a study and develop Bird Friendly Guidelines. The purpose of the study was to provide background information regarding bird strikes within the Markham context and best management practices for the reduction of bird-window collisions. The Guidelines provide guidance on treatments and techniques for new development and retrofit design treatments, and identify appropriate implementation mechanisms consistent with City practices and guidelines.

Industry stakeholders and staff were consulted during the consultation process for this project. Comments received were considered in the development of the Bird Friendly Guidelines.

Key Recommendations

Managing bird strikes in Markham requires a multi-faceted approach and therefore a number of actions have been recommended in the study as follows:

  1. ensure access and availability of Bird Friendly Guidelines to all parties involved in the development approval processes;
  2. incorporate bird friendly treatments into the City’s Site Plan Approval process through use of a Bird Friendly Specification Checklist that identifies requirements;
  3. encourage the completion of a voluntary monitoring program to applicants during the site plan application process, where appropriate;
  4. continue to show leadership by including bird friendly treatments on all municipal buildings where needed, appropriate and where budgets permit; while taking into consideration the function and design of building;
  5. develop an education and outreach program, including a lights out program, to promote bird friendly treatments on existing private buildings and residential properties; and,
  6. review the Guidelines periodically to reflect new best management practices.


On February 4, 2014 Development Services Committee received a presentation, report (with Appendix B and C) and Final Bird Friendly Guidelines (January 2014). Council endorsed the Guidelines on February 11, 2014.

On October 22, 2013 Development Services Committee received a presentation, report and Draft Bird Friendly Guidelines resulting from the study.

Contact Information

Development Services Commission


Telephone: 905.475.4861

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