For the Birds: Why Designing for Birds is Good for Everyone

A new book spotlights how bird-friendly design makes for healthier and more pleasant cities for all species.

February 12, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

City Bird

GLady / Pixabay

Urban design takes into account many factors, writes Nate Berg, but one author argues a crucial element has been left out of traditional design discussions: the birds.

Up to one billion birds die from collisions with buildings every year, and urban environments are typically hostile to bird populations. In The Bird-Friendly City: Creating Safe Urban Habitats, Timothy Beatley points out all the ways that cities can be more bird-friendly and, he argues, more human-friendly as well. From small tweaks to major design changes, Beatley's book shows how birds and other urban wildlife can be integrated into design choices that make cities healthier for everyone. "Better integrating nature into cities is good for people, but our buildings and cities aren’t always built in a way that’s good for nature." Every urban development project is an opportunity to design with birds in mind. "Beyond just reducing hazards we need to recognize that cities can be a positive force on behalf of birds, and for the conservation of biodiversity more generally."

Abundant bird life, writes Beatley, creates "soul-nourishing cities." To promote environments that are pleasant and nurturing to all species, he recommends minimum standards for biodiversity in all new buildings or developments and suggests replacing our traditional narrow indicators of a city's success with broader goals and metrics that include nature and biodiversity as core values.

Monday, February 8, 2021 in Fast Company

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This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.