Tencent Employees On A Mission to Save Migratory Birds
Every spring, around the world, billions of birds migrate north to take advantage of the explosion of insects in the northern summer, returning south in autumn to escape cold and find food. However, urbanization, especially the presence of skyscrapers and light pollution along the birds’ flight paths, are making their journey over cities increasingly treacherous. This is an issue across the Northern Hemisphere that poses a major threat. In fact, in North America alone it is estimated that up to a billion birds every year perish through collisions with glass buildings and, although data collection is China is in its early stages, the scale is likely to be similar in China.
Technology company Tencent hopes to improve the situation. People passing by the company’s headquarters in Nanshan District, Shenzhen, this month will notice a new film of polka dots covering one side of the Binhai Building façade.
Polka dot film is being installed at Tencent’s Binhai Building in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. It essentially says to birds: “Danger! Avoid this obstacle.”
The film reaches up to two stories from the ground, about seven to eight meters high. The polka dots are not for style – they are designed to save lives, the lives of migratory birds who sometimes crash into the glass curtain wall because they see the reflection of trees and bushes but cannot see the glass, or are disoriented by the strong lights from inside.
The polka dot film on the building can save birds from fatal collisions.
Tencent is the first technology company in China to adopt such an anti-bird-collision measure. As part of the company’s commitment to biodiversity conservation, Tencent has worked with experts to assess the impact of buildings on migratory birds and adjust building designs to reduce accidents involving bird strikes.
“Tencent employees have been central in our efforts to bring the anti-bird-collision mechanism to life,” said He Cheng, a founder of Tencent's bird-strike prevention team. “In May this year, our volunteers worked with experts to carry out a one-month survey at more than 10 of our properties in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu to assess the bird-strike situation. They identified one side of the Binhai Building in Shenzhen to be particularly high risk, as five fatal bird strikes occurred within a short period of time.”
China’s National Bird Strike Prevention Action Network reported that a 2022 survey of nearly 700 buildings registered 154 bird strikes, with protected wild species such as the Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) and the Chestnut-flanked White-eye (Zosterops erythropleurus) being among the victims. Extrapolating from this study, bird fatality numbers nationwide could be in the millions.
Tencent Volunteers are Working with Experts
Following their survey, Tencent volunteers worked with experts from the China Anti-Bird Collision Action Alliance and the Biodiversity and Sustainability Lab of Duke Kunshan University to develop the polka dot film that breaks up the reflection and enables birds to see the glass.
Users can access the toolkit and report bird strikes on the Bird Watcher Weixin Mini Program.
To encourage more companies to adopt bird-friendly measures and architectural designs, Tencent employees helped to develop a digital bird-strike prevention design toolkit. Now available on the “Bird Watcher” Mini Program on Weixin, users can download anti-bird strike design drawings, parameters and production processes for free.
Going forward, the Tencent Charity Foundation will be organizing employee volunteers to carry out surveys at all of the company's properties around the country, particularly during the spring and autumn migration periods. The data collected will be shared with national bird protection organizations to support them in identifying more solutions to save the birds.
At the same time, Tencent will help raise global awareness on the ecological importance of migratory birds and the threats they are facing, with the aim of reducing ecological accidents such as bird strikes. This is part of Tencent's vision to align the company's strategy and operations with the goals of the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and we encourage companies around the world to do the same.