Being Bird Friendly on the new Oregon Zoo Education Center

You would naturally assume that when a new structure is planned for a zoo, the health of all animals would be a consideration. However, most of the focus in a Zoo-like scenario would normally be on the animals that are being housed inside the zoo and not outside. But in the case of the new Oregon Zoo Education Center in Portland, Oregon the design took into account an aspect of wildlife that its construction could affect. Birds…

Posted by on 05/29/2017

Being Bird Friendly on the new Oregon Zoo Education Center

One of the initial questions was how to build a great project with sustainable and smart products and keep birds safe as well.  With this project being in Portland one of the reference documents available to all parties was the Resource Guide for Bird-Friendly Window Design by the Portland Audubon Society.   One of the passages mentioned early on this piece pointed to the overall need for bird protection and glazing.

Window collisions are one of the top sources of mortality for birds, ranked second only to habitat destruction in terms of impact. Today, collisions are estimated to account for the death of up to one billion birds annually in the US alone.

The document dug deep into the need for solutions when it came to bird friendly materials and had several pages on glass products.  Many options were shown and detailed giving anyone who truly wanted insight on this subject more than they could imagine.


Walker Glass is one such organization that was/is paying serious attention to this need.  For them this subject has been a priority and long before they became involved on the Oregon Zoo Education Center they were working on solutions.

“Several years ago we recognized the need for better bird-friendly glazing options and we engaged in extensive research to understand bird behavior and the properties required on glass to minimize the risk of collisions,” said Ross Christie Vice-President of sales and marketing at Walker Glass.

Bird friendly glazing on a project with serious sustainable goals is significant and Christie and his team at Walker were up to the task, not only being able to supply the bird protective feature but ensure it could be matched with a high energy performance Low E glass as well.  In the end Walker Textures® AviProtek® E pattern 211 (1) over Vitro (formerly PPG) Solarban® 70 XL (2) was supplied.


“Basically the AviProtek® E combines the acid-etch visual markers on the number 1 surface with the Solarban® high performance low-e coatings on position 2, creating the ideal bird friendly glazing solution to preserve birds’ lives and be energy efficient as well.  We worked closely with Vitro (then PPG) to create this important mix, which became the first generation of low-e coated acid-etched bird safe glass.”

As laid out in the above mentioned guide, having an intelligent etch added to the glass makes a difference- especially following one important rule : Most birds will not attempt to fly through horizontal spaces less than 2” high, nor through vertical spaces 4” wide or less. This concept has become known as the 2” x 4” Rule.

The Walker Textures® AviProtek® E pattern 211 is a creative masterpiece of that standard, taking the direction and creating pattern safe for the bird and pleasing to the aesthetic of the building.  Adding in the energy side just took it a little further allowing stakeholders to achieve more milestones.


“We are honored that this innovation brings the best of both worlds together and will help architects and building owners achieve their environmental goals and earn LEED credits, while meeting solar performance targets,” Deschamps commented.

And now at the Oregon Zoo both the inhabitants inside the property and those flying around and above it will have the best atmosphere possible.

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