1,000 birds die in one day at McCormick Place in Chicago

Advocates say nearly 1,000 birds died after crashing into a Chicago building during their migration route last week — an astonishing number of bird deaths in a single building in one day.

On Thursday morning, the bodies of warblers, woodcocks and sapsuckers — among other species — were scattered on the ground around the glass-covered McCormick Place, North America’s largest convention center. Volunteers continue to recover the bodies of birds that crashed into McCormick Place and other glass buildings in Chicago.

The loss is huge, given that birds are vital to the global ecosystem, said Annette Prince, director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a volunteer group dedicated to protecting migratory birds.

“When we say we found a thousand birds, that’s just a snapshot – there could be many more birds than just the one square mile we see,” Prince said.

According to Prince, Wednesday night into Thursday morning brought a “perfect storm” for the bird strikes. Thousands of people were migrating through the Chicago area, braving strong winds, cloudy skies and the glassy exterior of McCormick Place – located on Chicago’s lakefront, an ideal resting place for birds. That night, the building’s lights were left on for an event, although bright lights are known at night. Stray birds.

Prince said the birds’ bodies have been turned over to the Field Museum in Chicago for study.

The building’s management acknowledged in a statement Friday that the center’s lights remained on last week due to an event, but said it otherwise participates in the citywide “Lights Out” program, which aims to shut down buildings or buildings in Chicago by shutting them down. To reduce the number of collisions. Dim lights when not in use.

“McCormick Place learned that a large number of migratory birds died after hitting the Lakeside Center and other campus buildings on Wednesday night. “This was caused by unusual weather during the peak of the fall 2023 migration season in the city, as well as confusion of birds caused by light emanating from buildings,” the building’s statement said. The welfare of the birds is very important to us, and we are truly saddened by this incident.”

According to the American Bird Conservancy, one billion birds die annually due to building strikes in the US. And Chicago has been named one of the deadliest cities in the country for migratory birds because of its position on their routes, its glass architecture and its Level of light pollution. In 2020, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance requiring all new buildings to be designed with bird-safe features, and in 2021, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) signed the Bird-Safe Buildings Act, which There was a need for bird-friendly construction and renovation of state-owned buildings.

But bird-friendly policies have not yet been fully implemented, Prince said.

“In Chicago, we see an amazing number and variety of birds that are not residents here, but simply come here as visitors. We are hosting them as small tourists, and we are obliged to give them safe passage,” she said.

Mitigation may include adding netting that acts as a barrier in front of windows or placing special film on glass windows to ensure birds can figure out where to fly. Those measures are especially important for buildings that exist alongside green spaces that birds enjoy, Prince said, such as the lakeside area of ​​McCormick Place.

“We are hoping that this incident, as tragic as it is, will be a reminder to any buildings in the city to turn off their lights during migration and to implement bird-friendly guidelines for new developments.” Support.” He said.

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