Bird Friendly Buildings in London
Buildings can cause harm to birds and other wildlife in several ways. Fortunately, most conflicts have simple solutions. This page lists some common issues for birds posed by buildings and provides suggestions for ways to make buildings and properties less harmful to local wildlife.
Collisions with reflective and transparent plate glass on buildings is a major source of bird deaths in London. Learn more about this issue and solutions by visiting the dedicated page here.
Birds and other wildlife may become stuck in a variety of places on and surrounding buildings. We provide a few examples below. To prevent wildlife from becoming trapped, we recommend looking at a building holistically to identify features or areas where wildlife may enter but be unable to exit.
Window wells on the ground floor of buildings may trap wildlife, including young (fledgling) birds. Window wells that are more than a few inches deep should be covered to prevent wildlife from falling in in the first place. For basement windows that function as fire escapes, window well covers may be used that can be lifted from below in case of emergency. We recommend only using grates or covers that do not have gaps wider than 1 inch that a small animal could fit through.
Vertical pipes and posts with openings at the top may trap wildlife including cavity-nesting birds. Birds can accidentally fall inside while perching on top, or they may enter while looking for a suitable cavity in which to build a nest and become unable to stretch out their wings to exit. We recommend that any vertical pipes or posts wider than 1.5 inches should have grates or covers applied on top to prevent wildlife from entering. More information
Windows or doors left open can attract birds to enter a building, especially in spring when many species search for suitable cavities to nest in. Once inside a building, birds may be difficult to remove and are put at risk of colliding with windows as they try to escape. We recommend sealing openings that birds may use to enter a building, such as covering open windows with screens and ensuring doors close automatically when not in use. If birds have entered a building through an opening in the past, they are likely to do so again in the future. Learn more about excluding pests from buildings.
A rooftop pipe that a bird could mistake for a nesting cavity.
Young birds that cannot fly may become trapped in window wells.
To a pigeon, open windows may look like entrances to shelter.
Young birds become trapped in water features. Installing a ramp can help wildlife to climb out.
Water features (e.g. pools, ponds, fountains) can attract birds looking for water to drink or bathe in. Many water features are designed with vertical lining or ledges around the perimeter that can make it difficult for wildlife to climb in or out. If wildlife becomes trapped inside a water feature, they are put at risk of drowning. We recommend that water features should have graduated slopes around at least part of the perimeter to allow wildlife to climb out. Installing a ramp or island for use by wildlife may be an effective compromise.
Birds and Waste
Waste produced by building occupants can cause problems for wildlife including birds. Plastic materials that winds up in the environment as litter can create hazards. For example, birds may become entangled in plastic or ingest plastics they mistake for food. Improperly managed food waste can attract wildlife and encourage dependency on humans for feeding, which can lead to conflicts. Below are suggestions for ensuring buildings are managing waste effectively to prevent conflicts with wildlife:
Ensure outdoor spaces are free from plastic litter by installing waste receptacles and/or signage about littering and cleaning up. Avoid using plastic materials that are prone to becoming litter such as helium balloons and ribbons.
Outdoor waste receptacles should have appropriate lids to exclude wildlife.
Encourage building occupants to clean up eating areas and to not leave behind food sitting in the open.
Discourage building occupants from feeding wildlife, especially near outdoor seating areas where wildlife sightings are common.
Bird Friendly Landscaping
The environment surrounding a building can have a huge impact on birds nearby. Planting the right species can attract birds by creating habitat and providing food. On the other hand, some plants such as invasive burdock can cause harm to birds and should be managed or removed. The application of pesticides is discouraged. Please check out our page on Bird Friendly Landscaping to learn more.
Artificial light at night can affect birds and ecosystems in a variety of ways. When buildings leave their indoor lights on at night, or use inappropriate light fixtures outside, the resulting light pollution contributes to skyglow and light trespass that can influence birds' health and behaviour. Learn more about light pollution in London and how to reduce light pollution contributed by buildings.