Hundreds of migrating songbirds crash into New York City skyscrapers

Science

Hundreds of birds migrating through New York City this week died after crashing into the city's glass towers, a mass casualty event spotlighted by a New York City Audubon volunteer's tweets showing the World Trade Center littered with bird carcasses.

This photo provided by Melissa Breyer shows some of the dead birds collected in the vicinity of New York's World Trade Center on Sept. 14.(Melissa Breyer/The Associated Press)

Hundreds of birds migrating through New York City this week died after crashing into the city's glass towers, a mass casualty event spotlighted by a New York City Audubon volunteer's tweets showing the World Trade Center littered with bird carcasses.

This week's avian death toll was particularly high, but bird strikes on Manhattan skyscrapers are a problem that NYC Audubon has documented for years, said Kaitlyn Parkins, the group's associate director of conservation and science.

Stormy weather Monday night into Tuesday contributed to the deaths, she said.

"We had a big storm and sort of weird weather and lots of birds, and that's sort of the perfect combination that can lead to bird-window collisions," Parkins said.

"It seems that the storm might have brought the birds in lower than they would have otherwise have been, or just disoriented them," Parkins added. "The effects of nocturnal light on birds is also quite strong, especially when it's a cloudy night."

We've got MANY reports of bird collisions this morning. If you find a dead bird, please report it to <a href="https://t.co/oqwevT8tHT">https://t.co/oqwevT8tHT</a>. It only takes a moment of your time and aids our collisions research. If you find one injured, report it on dBird as well &amp; take it to the <a href="https://twitter.com/wildbirdfund?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wildbirdfund</a>!

&mdash;@NYCAudubon

Volunteers with NYC Audubon document bird deaths at high-risk spots during the spring and fall migrations.

Melissa Breyer, the volunteer who tweeted about finding nearly 300 birds on sidewalks surrounding the new World Trade Center towers, said the experience was "overwhelming."

"As soon as I got to the buildings, the birds were everywhere on the sidewalk," Breyer said. "Looking north, covered, south, covered, west, covered — the sidewalks were literally covered with birds."

How to reduce bird deaths

NYC Audubon wants the owners of the World Trade Center towers and other buildings to help reduce the number of bird strikes by dimming the lights at night and by treating glass to make it more visible to birds.

"Make it so that they can see it and recognize that it's a solid barrier that they cannot fly through," Parkins said.

When you have 226 dead window-struck migratory birds from one morning, it’s hard to get them all in one photo. <a href="https://twitter.com/_WTCOfficial?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_WTCOfficial</a> — lights can be turned off, windows can be treated. Please do something. <a href="https://twitter.com/4WTC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@4WTC</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/3wtcnewyork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@3wtcnewyork</a> don’t let this be your legacy. <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCAudubon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NYCAudubon</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/wildbirdfund?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wildbirdfund</a> <a href="https://t.co/Qiu8Wqmilf">pic.twitter.com/Qiu8Wqmilf</a>

&mdash;@MelissaBreyer

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for the Durst Organization, co-developer of One World Trade Center, said in an email, "The first 200 feet of One WTC are encased in glass fins that are non-reflective. This design was chosen because it greatly reduces bird strikes, which mostly occur below 200 feet and are frequently caused by reflective glass."

Dara McQuillan, a spokesperson for Silverstein Properties, the developer of three other trade center skyscrapers, said, "We care deeply for wild birds and protecting their habitat in the five boroughs. Understanding that artificial night-time lighting in general can attract and disorient migrating birds, we are actively encouraging our office tenants to turn off their lights at night and lower their blinds wherever possible, especially during the migratory season."

Some birds survived crashes

It wasn't the last flight for all the birds that crashed. Some survived.

A total of 77 birds were taken to the Wild Bird Fund's rehab facility on the Upper West Side on Tuesday, the majority of them from the trade center area, director Ritamary McMahon said.

"We knew it was going to be a large migration coming in," said McMahon, who scheduled extra staff to care for an expected influx of injured birds.

The Wild Bird Fund staff members gave the birds food, fluids and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.

Thirty birds recovered and were released in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on Wednesday, McMahon said.

"One of our staff took an Uber down to Prospect Park to release them so they wouldn't face any more tall buildings on their travels," she said.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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