Riverbanks’ new conservation efforts are for the birds

February 15, 2024

New Partnerships Allow for Avian Conservation to Soar

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has joined South Carolina Wildlife Federation and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to prevent one of the largest threats to migratory birds, collisions with glass. AZA’s North American Songbird (NAS) SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® program awarded Riverbanks a grant to install CollidEscape, an external window vinyl that turns glass into a visible barrier to birds and still allows the view from inside to remain unobstructed. “At Riverbanks, we’ve been tracking and mitigating bird collisions for ten years. Our program continues to grow with this installation, which is our biggest and best yet,” says Colleen Lynch, Curator of Birds at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

Birds often do not recognize glass as a barrier. Instead, they see reflections, such as trees and sky, and accidentally collide with the glass. Creating a visual barrier prevents reflections and helps to significantly decrease a bird’s attraction to windows. Hunter Balog, Conservation Project Manager at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, states, “As a conservation organization, we have a responsibility to educate our guests and the community on how we are helping wildlife and wild places, and how they can do the same.”

Riverbanks has several bird safe glass installations on campus, from vinyl window clings at the Komodo dragon yard to bird safe glass on the doors at the new Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. The latest CollidEscape installation is on the two-story window of Riverbanks’ Tuskers restaurant overlooking giraffes and zebras.

“Our hope is that other Columbia organizations will consider an installation of their own so we can collectively reduce songbird window collisions in the Midlands region,” added Jay Keck, Industry Habitat Manager at the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. “Throughout the years, the CollidEscape material installed at this location should save hundreds, if not thousands, of our amazing birds. Birds have a unique way of connecting people to nature, so protecting them ensures that our relationship with our amazing planet will remain a healthy one.”

Three-quarters of the world’s coffee production destroys critical bird habitats and uses harsh chemicals. Bird-friendly coffee plantations are certified organic farms that work to lower carbon production, fight climate change and help birds and other wildlife thrive. The coffee is farmed sustainably, which fosters the growth of tree canopies to ensure a safe habitat for migratory and nesting birds. You can do your part to protect birds by purchasing Smithsonian Bird Friendly® certified coffee at Riverbanks and other retail locations.


Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 3,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of America’s best public gardens. The Zoo opened on April 25, 1974, and for five decades has connected individuals, families and school children with the natural world. Riverbanks is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is recognized as a global leader in animal care and welfare, education, recreation, science and wildlife conservation. It is the mission of the Zoo and Garden to create meaningful connections and inspire actions that will have a lasting impact on wildlife and wild places. For more information, visit riverbanks.org.