Collision of about 1000 birds with a tall building in Chicago, the effect of building lights and design on the safety of birds

Collision of about 1000 birds with a tall building in Chicago


Collision of about 1000 birds with a tall building in Chicago: In a Chicago exhibition hall designed with glass curtains, nearly a thousand birds collectively collided with the glass. They died overnight, a quantity not seen in 40 years, forming a “carpet of dead birds” on the ground, possibly due to rain and architectural design.

According to Sky News, McCormick Place in Chicago is the largest exhibition center in North America. Recently, a tragic event occurred where nearly a thousand songbirds collided with the glass and died at night, shocking experts because this number usually does not exceed 15 in one night.

David Willard, who has been observing this phenomenon for many years, said he saw a carpet of dead birds on the morning of the 5th and admitted, “During the 40 years I have been monitoring McCormick Place, I have never seen such a large-scale event.”

Bird experts believe that the large number of deaths is a result of rainfall, migration conditions, and the addition of glass curtains.

Collision of about 1000 birds with a tall building in Chicago-1
Avian experts collected 964 dead birds across 33 species, mostly warblers, along with an estimated 80 stunned live ones, according to the National Audubon Society, a bird activist organization. Photo: AP

It is not just Chicago. In 2014, a study showed that 365 million to 988 million birds die yearly in the United States from colliding with windows.
Birds do not know that glass can be deadly and often fly towards windows due to the reflection of plants on the glass. On the day, 33 species and 964 birds died, which is 700 more than the previous highest record in the 1980s.

However, this is not unavoidable. Experts explain that dimming the building lights would have a significant effect, and designing bird-friendly markings on windows would also help.

During the 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York City, the lights at the World Trade Center were intermittently turned off to prevent birds from getting trapped.
The United States also implements lights-out programs during bird migration periods, and Chicago has implemented stricter bird-friendly building standards since 2020. However, the McCormick Place, built in the late 1950s, is exempt from these standards.

A spokesperson for McCormick Place responded that they would turn off the internal lights unless there is a need from staff, clients, or visitors, but the facility has been active for an entire week.

Uylade commented, “This is an unusual building constructed without considering bird safety. Many buildings are the same.” Due to its location near the lake and the frequent use of lights at night, it is believed that despite the emphasis on bird migration at night, humans and buildings are not bird-friendly, which is “sad and dramatic.”

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