Raising a Glass to Bird-Safe Glass

Fall Roost 2023 honoree Jeff Kimball proudly raises his just-received glass bird award, given to him by NYC Bird Alliance in recognition of his great contributions to the organization. Photo: Cyrus Gonzeles 

By Hillarie O’Toole

NYC Bird Alliance’s annual Fall Roost benefit always succeeds in bringing together the best of the conservation community, providing an opportunity to connect with fellow birders and environmentalists, and to celebrate and support NYC Bird Alliance’s conservation, advocacy, and engagement work. It can often be difficult for organizations to make a connection between fancy fundraising parties and the real work they are doing, but this year’s event, hosted at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, exemplified the importance of community partnerships. The festive cocktail party was a fitting tribute to those who work to make our shared spaces more sustainable for birds and people, alike.
It wasn’t long ago that the site for this year’s event was a hotspot for frequent bird collisions. The luxurious 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge opened in 2017, situated within and inspired by the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park—a beautiful urban haven for birds and other pollinators. Sustainability has always been at the core of their business model: utilizing 100% wind power, collecting rainwater from the rooftop to reduce stormwater runoff, utilizing low energy lighting, and a design that incorporated 54% reused and recycled materials among their long list of accomplishments.

The exterior of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, retrofitted last year with Feather Friendly® bird-safe film. Photo: Cyrus Gonzeles

So, when NYC Bird Alliance scientists first noted to management the high number of bird collisions found by Project Safe Flight monitors at the 10-story waterfront building, the hotel knew it must act: 1 Brooklyn Bridge Hotel retrofitted a portion of its windows with Feather Friendly®  bird-safe film which resulted in an over 50% reduction in collisions at the site. It is no wonder that the organization chose to honor 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge as a model bird-friendly building partner—and it was inspiring for Fall Roost attendees to experience the beauty of the space and such conservation-in-action first-hand. 
NYC Bird Alliance Executive Director Jessica Wilson introduced 1 Hotel’s Tysen Gregersen and Laura O’Neall, who accepted the honor on behalf of the hotel. O’Neall noted, “At the end of the day why else are we here except for this beautiful city? We get to live and exist in a beautiful space that attracts wildlife and birds!” Gregersen added, “We are committed to fostering a better world for our community and must constantly ask ourselves, ‘What can we do differently? What can we do better?’”

From left to right: Laura O’Neall, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge; NYC Bird Alliance Executive Director Jessica Wilson; Tysen Gregersen, SH Hotels and Resorts; NYC Bird Alliance President Karen. Photo: Cyrus Gonzeles

Green infrastructure, and partnerships such as the one with 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, have been a major focus for NYC Bird Alliance thanks to the unwavering efforts of staff, board, and volunteers. Board President Karen Benfield introduced the event’s second honoree, Jeffrey Kimball, whose ability to craft impactful stories and capacity to capture the hearts of a broader audience have kept the organization on this path towards sustainability. 
Kimball, a filmmaker who is well-known for his acclaimed documentary film, Birders: The Central Park Effect, has served on the organization’s Board of Directors for more than ten years and as board president from 2016 to 2020. A lifelong naturalist and birder for over 30 years, he first became interested in birds when he moved to New York City from California. As his passion for birding grew, so did his desire to protect birds. 
Kimball has worked to share the magic of birding—and helped NYC Bird Alliance become the “voice for birds” in the City. He states that the single most rewarding thing in his tenure has been passing “bird-safe glass legislation” and is thrilled by work he is doing with the organization to change even more laws and to involve all New Yorkers, in all five boroughs, in these efforts.

From left to right: NYC Bird Alliance Executive Director Jessica Wilson, honoree Jeffrey Kimball, and NYC Bird Alliance President Karen Benfield. Photo: Cyrus Gonzeles

Following the honoree presentation, guests were invited once again to raise a glass and raise funds to strengthen the reach of Project Safe Flight. This year’s event was a resounding success, raising nearly $390,000 through this philanthropic opportunity, ticket sales, and the lively silent auction featuring a wide variety of items ranging from unique birding gifts to birding tours here in NYC—and even a trip to the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest. Guests mingled over cocktails, sampled a plant-based menu, and shared birding adventure tales with friends new and old. 
Perhaps most importantly, the Roost continues to serve as “friend-raiser”—bringing together volunteers, birders, staff, and board members to celebrate New York City’s diverse birds and communities. Longtime volunteer and advisory council member Lauren Klingsberg stated with a smile, “The guests just keep getting younger each year. Or perhaps I am getting older? Either way, it is a joy to see how much this event has grown and changed through time.” 
We can’t wait to see what is in store for this coming year with a new organization name on the horizon and new partnerships that will further the organization’s mission to protect birds and habitat.
Special thanks to the Fall Roost committee co-chairs Karen Benfield, MaryJane Boland, Catherine Heller, Tatiana Kaletsch, Jennifer Maritz, Vivek Sriram, and Sharon Weidberg.

Want to see more photos from the night? See our Fall Roost 2023 photo album on Flickr

NYC Bird Alliance’s Public Programs Manager Roslyn Rivas (front) with partners from Audubon NY & CT, Latino Outdoors, and other partner organizations. Photo: Cyrus Gonzeles