Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comEnvironmentAnimalsMore Than 1,000 Birds Killed After Hitting Chicago Building

More Than 1,000 Birds Killed After Hitting Chicago Building

McCormick Place Lakeside Center, Chicago Field Museum
Migratory birds were killed due to hitting this building in Chicago during the 2023 migration season. Credit: Sherri Vokey / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a single night, over a thousand birds on a migration journey were killed when they collided with a building in Chicago. The unfortunate incident occurred as a result of a combination of migration time, harsh weather, and the birds’ confusion with lights and buildings that do not have “bird-friendly” glasses.

Annette Prince, the head of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, shared that the Chicago Field Museum gathered over a thousand dead birds that crashed into the McCormick Place Lakeside Center, a convention spot by Lake Michigan, from Wednesday night to Thursday morning.

Volunteers from the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors rounded up another thousand lifeless birds in the city’s downtown region, as reported by Prince. Prince also mentioned that there were probably additional birds that initially flew away after crashing into a building, but these later succumbed to their injuries.

Prince shared her sentiments, saying, “It was overwhelming and tragic to see this many birds.” She added, “I went to a building where, when I walked up to the building, it was like there was just a carpet of dead and dying and injured birds.”

Factors leading to the deadly collision

Several factors likely played a role in the unusually high number of deadly bird collisions, according to Prince. There was an exceptionally large group of birds preparing to head south for the winter.

These birds were waiting for favorable winds from the north or west to aid their journey. As Prince explained, “Those birds essentially piled up.” When the right winds finally arrived on Wednesday, a substantial number of birds embarked on their migration simultaneously.

Moreover, unfavorable weather conditions, including fog and low-lying clouds, may have added to the problem. Such conditions can confuse birds when it comes to lights and buildings, making them more prone to accidents. These cloudy skies likely caused the birds to fly at a lower altitude, putting them in closer proximity to buildings.

Infrastructure leading to confusion in birds

Buildings that keep their lights on overnight, especially during the peak of bird migration, are more likely to become magnets for bird collisions, Prince explained. “Those lights are a very prominent attraction for birds—almost like a lighthouse.”

Surprisingly, birds continued to meet fatal accidents with the McCormick Place Lakeside Center even during daylight hours. This situation highlights how extensive panels of clear glass can be bewildering to these creatures.

Prince remarked, “If you use a large expanse of glass that looks like an open space, birds will try to fly into it, not seeing that barrier between them.”

Furthermore, many of the birds involved in these accidents were likely young and on their inaugural migration journey. As Prince pointed out, “For some of them, this is the first time they encountered a city or an urban area.”

The statement from McCormick Place emphasized that “the well-being of migratory birds is of high importance to us, and we are truly saddened by this incident.” They clarified that the lights were illuminated at the facility due to an event and were promptly turned off when the building was not in use.

Andrew Farnsworth, an expert in the study of bird migration at Cornell University, shared in an interview that the bird collision incident was of a significant scale.

Both Farnsworth and Prince noted that the occurrence at McCormick Place is, sadly, a common problem. Birds collide with buildings, especially those with extensive glass surfaces that keep lights on overnight during the peak migration season.

Farnsworth remarked, “The collision problem happens every night of migration in spring and fall.”

Stats about birds losing their lives due to collision

In a report from 2019 by researchers at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, it was estimated that approximately six hundred million birds lose their lives every year in the United States due to collisions with buildings. Chicago was identified as the most perilous city for birds during both the fall and spring migration seasons, followed by Houston and Dallas.

Farnsworth emphasized that this is a significant issue that has played a role in the decline of various bird species over the past decades. He noted that the challenge is particularly troubling because it is something we have the power to address and rectify.

Key solutions to solving the problem

Both Farnsworth and Prince highlighted two key solutions to mitigate avian collision fatalities: the use of “bird-friendly” glass and the reduction of light pollution.

Bird-friendly glass typically includes a design or pattern that reduces reflectivity and makes it more visible to birds. New construction projects can incorporate bird-friendly glass into their plans while existing buildings can apply decals to make the glass more bird-friendly.

These measures can play a crucial role in safeguarding our feathered friends and reducing the risk of bird collisions.

Encouraging people to make the switch to bird-friendly glass comes with its own set of challenges, as noted by Prince.

“People are very much in love with the aesthetic of clear or reflective glass,” she explained. “I think there has to be a mindset change—that none of those aesthetics are worth hundreds of thousands of things dying because of it.”

In addition, the simple act of turning off lights, especially during the nighttime, can be a crucial step in preserving these creatures’ lives.

“Turning off nonessential lights is like a no-brainer,” Farnsworth pointed out. “It saves energy, it’s good for human health, and it stops birds from being attracted and disoriented.”

Importance of saving birds and other animals

It is important to recognize that the impact of collision-related deaths will only grow as birds and other animals confront mounting challenges from climate change and habitat destruction.

“These birds are not replaceable,” stressed Prince. “They’re valuable too, because we enjoy them, and they’re valuable because they’re critical to our environment.”

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts