Hundreds of Birds Found Dead in US City For Alarming Reason

For four decades, David Willard has diligently surveyed the premises of the lakefront exposition center in Chicago, meticulously documenting deceased avian specimens. On the morning of Thursday, a distressing discovery was made by the individual in question: an extensive number of deceased songbirds, densely covering the ground and resembling a carpet-like appearance.

Approximately 1,000 songbirds met their demise during the nocturnal hours as a consequence of colliding with the windows of the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. Avian specialists attribute this unfortunate event to a lethal combination of optimal migration conditions, precipitation, and the exhibition hall’s illuminated interior and extensive windowed surfaces.

Willard, a retired collections manager for the bird division at the Chicago Field Museum, described the scene as “just like a carpet of dead birds at the windows there.” Willard’s responsibilities there included managing, maintaining, and cataloging the museum’s collection of 500,000 bird specimens as well as looking for bird strikes in support of migration studies.

“A normal night would be zero to 15 (dead) birds. It was just kind of a shocking outlier to what we’ve experienced,” Willard said. “In 40 years of keeping track of what’s happening at McCormick, we’ve never seen anything remotely on that scale.”

According to estimates by researchers, a substantial number of avian fatalities occur annually in the United States as a result of collisions with windows, potentially reaching the magnitude of hundreds of millions. In 2014, a research conducted by scientists affiliated with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the yearly avian mortality rate to range from 365 million to 988 million individuals.

The phenomenon of window strikes is a prevalent concern in nearly all major cities in the United States. Avian species lack the ability to perceive transparent or reflecting glass and hence fail to comprehend its potential as a fatal obstruction. When individuals observe plants or shrubs either directly via windows or indirectly through their reflections, they exhibit a tendency to approach and subsequently engage in self-destructive behaviors.

Nocturnal avian species, such as sparrows and warblers, depend on celestial bodies, namely stars, for navigation throughout their migratory journeys. The presence of luminous structures in urban areas serves as a dual stimulus for avian species, simultaneously attracting and disorienting them. This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as fatal light attraction, manifests in birds colliding with windows or circling around illuminated structures until they succumb to exhaustion and perish.

In the year 2017, a notable incident occurred in Galveston, Texas, where a significant number of passerines, specifically around 400, experienced disorientation due to the floodlights of a skyscraper. Consequently, these birds tragically perished as a result of colliding with windows.

In the year 2017, a notable incident occurred in Galveston, Texas, where a significant number of passerines, specifically around 400, experienced disorientation due to the floodlights of a skyscraper. Consequently, these birds tragically perished as a result of colliding with windows.

A large wave of songbird southern migration was expected over Chicago on Wednesday night, according to avian specialist and retired University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife ecology professor Stan Temple.

Tiny songbirds travel at night to escape predators and air turbulence, feeding during the day. According to Temple, they had been waiting for northerly winds to propel them south, but abnormally warm southern winds in September forced birds into a holding pattern around Chicago. A front raced south on Wednesday night, creating a tailwind, and thousands of birds flocked to the air.

“You had all these birds that were just raring to go, but they’ve been held up with this weird September and October with temperatures way above normal,” Temple said. “You had this huge pack of birds take off.”

According to Temple, the birds swooped south over Chicago, following the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and straight into a tangle of lit-up buildings.

When the birds descended to lower elevations due to the predawn rain, they discovered that McCormick Place had lights on, according to Willard. The field museum claims that 964 birds perished there. According to Willard, that’s almost 700 more than had ever been discovered at the institute during the previous 40 years. According to the field museum, 33 species had members that perished; the majority were yellow-rumped and palm warblers.

According to University of Wisconsin-Madison bird ecologist Anna Pidgeon, window strikes and fatal light attraction are simply avoidable. She claimed that architects could construct windows with easily identifiable symbols in the glass, and building managers could just turn down the lights. In addition, people can paint their windows, install screens, or decorate the glass with decals.

During its yearly commemoration of September 11, New York City has adopted the practice of momentarily turning off the twin light beams that represent the World Trade Center in order to keep birds out of the light shafts.

In an attempt to persuade metropolitan areas to turn off or dim lights during migration months, the National Audubon Society started the Lights Out initiative in 1999. Almost fifty American and Canadian cities, including Toronto, New York, Boston, San Diego, Dallas, and Miami, have joined the campaign.

Chicago is one of the cities that takes part in Lights Out. The city council issued an ordinance mandating bird safety precautions in newly constructed buildings in 2020, but the rules have not yet been put into effect. McCormick Place’s initial structures were built in 1959.

According to Cynthia McCafferty, a McCormick Place representative, the exhibition hall takes part in Lights Out and turns off internal lighting when not in use by employees, clients, or guests. The center also looks after a six-acre bird sanctuary, she said.

According to McCafferty, the center has been hosting an event all week, so while the building was occupied, the lights were on, and when it wasn’t, they were off. She admitted that she didn’t know when the window strikes happened or if the facility was inhabited at the time.

“It’s an odd building,” Willard said of the exhibition center. “When it was built, people weren’t thinking about bird safety. They still aren’t in most architecture. It’s right on the lakefront. There are many nights when it’s lit up. People are describing the whole night of migration as part of a once-in-a-lifetime thing … (but) this still is an unacceptable intrusion by humans and their architecture. Just terribly sad and dramatic.”

The post Hundreds of Birds Found Dead in US City For Alarming Reason appeared first on The Republic Brief.

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