Demonstration Projects: Walking our Talk

Help us rebuild the Wildlife Care Center and renew our campus and educational spaces – visit ForPortlandBird Alliance of to learn more and donate to support our capital campaign.

by Mary Coolidge, BirdSafe and Non-Lead Campaign Coordinator; Megan Van de Mark, Backyard Habitat Certification Program Manager; Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director

Bird Alliance of Oregon’s plans to upgrade our campus provide an exciting opportunity to walk our talk by integrating Bird Safe, Lights Out, Green Roof, and Backyard Habitat Certification Program demonstration projects into our facilities. In addition to making our sanctuary more bird friendly, each serves as a way to engage and educate the public, showcasing how they can incorporate green elements into their own homes, yards, businesses, and beyond.

Bushtit perched on an Oregon Grape bush
Bushtit, photo by Mick Thompson.

Bird-Safe Windows and Lighting

Window collisions account for up to a billion deaths every year in North America, making it one of the top three hazards for wild birds. The vast majority of collisions are at low-rise commercial and residential buildings, and thankfully there are a growing number of readily available solutions. All of the windows on the new Wildlife Care Center will have either exterior window screens or a visible frit pattern, both effective bird-safe measures. By making our windows safe for birds and providing educational displays, we can encourage others to make changes to their own homes, offices, and community spaces.

We are also designing the lighting thoughtfully, according to best practices that minimize light trespass and its many unintended consequences. Lighting will be aimed down and fully shielded, will be no brighter than necessary for safe circulation, will have warm color temperature bulbs (yellow), and will be motion activated.

A close up of the Solyx full-coverage horizontal line patterned window film on the window.

Backyard Habitat Demonstration Garden

The Backyard Habitat Certification Program, managed in partnership with Columbia Land Trust, is one of our most popular and engaging regional programs, focused on helping residents garden through a habitat-restoration lens. The demonstration garden will be planted in front of the new Wildlife Care Center, showcasing the benefits of naturescaping with native plants and sustainable gardening practices. Interpretive signage will discuss how community members can transform their own yard, shared outdoor space, school, or other community greenspace into wildlife-friendly habitat. Sanctuary visitors, from hikers to school groups, will learn about native plants, wildlife stewardship, pesticide reduction, noxious weeds, and more.

Green Roof

One of our top priorities is advancing green infrastructure, such as green roofs, green streets, bioswales, and urban tree canopy, to reduce impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff, and urban heat-island effects while enhancing habitat value, cleaning our air and water, and improving access to nature. Bird Alliance of Oregon and partners successfully advocated for a green roof requirement on buildings in Portland’s Central City a few years back, and we will walk our talk with the new Care Center’s green roof. Unlike most local green roofs, which are on open landscapes, this one will be in a forest, allowing us to learn more about how they function in this environment and promote their use across a broader landscape. Installing this green roof is one way we can minimize the impacts of development on the Balch Creek Watershed.

If you’d like to help us rebuild the Wildlife Care Center, renew our campus and educational spaces, visit ForPortlandBird Alliance of to learn more and donate to support the capital campaign.