what kind of birds died in chicago

Nearly 1,000 birds died late last week after flying into a Chicago convention center during their migratory journey south.

964 birds crashed into McCormick Place Lakeside Center, a mostly glass building located on the shore of Lake Michigan just south of downtown Chicago.

Douglas Stotz, a conservation ecologist with the Chicago-based Field Museum, called Wednesday evening the biggest night of migration Chicago had seen in the last century.

“In one night we had a years worth of death,” he told NPR, noting that typically, between 1,000 and 2,000 birds die each year from flying into the building.

Before getting to work on Thursday morning, Stotz saw what he described as “clouds of birds” in the sky.

“We check McCormick Place daily during migration to pick up dead birds and to release ones that are still alive,” he said. “When I went into the museum, it was way beyond what I could have imagined.”

He said the previous number of birds killed in a single day flying into the convention center was close to 200 to 300 birds.

“The well-being of migratory birds is of high importance to us, and we are truly saddened by the incident,” the convention center wrote in a statement posted to Instagram.

While millions of birds fly over the Windy City during fall and spring migrations, a confluence of specific conditions contributed to the unprecedented migratory event last week.

“October is always one of our busiest times of year,” Annette Prince, the director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, told NPR.

During the days leading up to the influx of birds flying over Chicago, birds hadnt been traveling “because weather conditions were not favorable,” said Prince, who noted recent winds from the south prevented birds from moving through the city.

“Birds like to fly in the fall when there is a north or a west wind because theyre coming from areas north of us, and that gives them a literal and figurative tailwind to travel with,” said Prince.

Additionally, a storm south of Chicago forced birds to fly closer to the ground, said Stotz.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate hundreds of millions of birds are killed annually in the United States due to building collisions.

Light reduction, especially during key migratory times, can reduce the number of birds that die when flying through urban areas.

“It would have made a huge difference to have the lights off,” Stotz said, noting McCormick Place was aglow last week.

“Lighting at McCormick Place is turned off unless needed for our employees, clients, or visitors,” the convention center said in its statement. “It is important to understand that there is an event going on at Lakeside Center this week, and thus the lights have been on when the space is occupied.”

Chicagos voluntary Lights Out program asks that tall buildings turn their lights out after 11p.m. every night until daylight during spring and fall migration dates. Stotz said most buildings downtown participate in the program, although “sometimes forget that they should be turning out the lights.”

McCormick Place said it participates in that program, “which has helped reduce the number of bird collisions on campus by 80%.”

A 2021 study determined that decreasing the number of lit windows at McCormick Place could cut fatal bird collisions by around 60%. Management of the building “should be fully aware they are in a key location where it behooves them to take a serious participation in the lights out program,” Prince told NPR.

Still, Stotz said the Field Museum, along with other conservation organizations in Chicago, have urged McCormick Place to participate in the Lights Out program more consistently, but continue to get the same answer — that its up to the client whether or not the lights are turned off.

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what kind of birds died in chicago

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Last week, there was a significant bird collision in Chicago, Illinois, which resulted in the death of almost 1,000 migratory birds—the greatest number ever recorded. The birds crashed into the McCormick Place Lakeside Center on October 4–5, during the height of their yearly fall migration, and perished as a result.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is requesting that the Chicago City Council fully implement the city’s ordinance on bird-friendly buildings and that McCormick Place management take immediate action to prevent tragedies involving bird collisions in the future.

what kind of birds died in chicago

Weather patterns were a factor, but the building’s reflective glass walls and bright lighting were known to be problematic even before this regrettable incident. As many live birds as possible were being rescued by ABC partners Willowbrook Wildlife Center and the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.

Due to McCormick Place’s location along Lake Michigan’s lakefront, where many birds travel, conservationists have long expressed concerns about the area’s potential threat to birds. The building isn’t particularly tall, but it’s mostly made of glass that hasn’t been treated with ABC-recommended products to avoid bird collisions. Although there are answers, Chicago’s building management and government have not yet taken any action.

In 2020, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance requiring all new buildings to be designed with bird-safe features. It remains to be implemented as the city completes a larger sustainability plan for new development.

For migratory bird species passing through Chicago on their way south for the winter, including White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, this is one of the busiest times of the year. In the US, glass-on-glass collisions cause an astounding 1 billion birds to die annually. Its a conservation crisis that ABC is tackling head on. On October 11, 2023, American Bird Conservancy published a PSA in the print edition of the Chicago Tribune to raise awareness of the tragic bird incident that took place and the general risk of collisions.

Most people might believe that after a collision, birds can recover and take off. But frequently, birds suffer from invisible but dangerous wounds like fractures, eye ulcers, and bruising that stop them from traveling further. The good news is, people can help. Considering that almost 3 billion birds have died in the U.S. S. and Canada since 1970, ABC has promoted the following strategies to support the survival and well-being of birds:

  • Advocate for the Federal Bird Safe Buildings Act with your legislators. Take action now.
  • Find out what additional easy steps you can take at home and in your community to prevent bird collisions.

We extend our sincerest thanks to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, and other groups and individuals who have been rescuing and providing vital care for the hundreds of injured birds that survived the McCormick Place mass-collision event.

A nonprofit organization called American Bird Conservancy works to protect wild birds and their habitats across the Americas. We take on the biggest issues affecting birds today, focusing on collaboration and results-driven work, by developing and advancing on the swift progress of science to stop extinctions, save habitats, remove threats, and increase the capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds. org, Facebook, Instagram, and X/Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Jordan Rutter Director of Communicationsmedia@abcbirds.org

A 2021 study determined that decreasing the number of lit windows at McCormick Place could cut fatal bird collisions by around 60%. Management of the building “should be fully aware they are in a key location where it behooves them to take a serious participation in the lights out program,” Prince told NPR.

Reducing light levels can help lower the number of birds that perish while flying over cities, particularly during important migratory periods.

During their migratory journey south, nearly 1,000 birds crashed into a Chicago convention center late last week, killing them.

Because they are migrating from regions north of us, birds enjoy flying in the fall when there is a north or west wind because it provides them with a literal and figurative tailwind.

Birds hadn’t been flying over Chicago in the days preceding the influx “because weather conditions were not favorable,” according to Prince, who also mentioned that recent winds from the south had stopped birds from flying through the city.


What kind of birds killed in Chicago?

By morning, carcasses ranging from Tennessee warblers to hermit thrushes to American woodcocks littered the ground outside the convention center. In a statement posted on Instagram, McCormick Place acknowledged the bird fatalities.

What happened to the birds in Chicago?

Nearly a thousand birds dead in Chicago The songbirds died late last week after smashing into McCormick Place Lakeside Center, a mostly glass building.

Why did birds fly into building in Chicago?

In just one night, more than a thousand migrating birds died after crashing into a single building in Chicago, due to what experts say was a deadly combination of migration season, difficult weather, and a lack of “bird-friendly” building measures.

How many birds die from building strikes?

Studies have estimated that as many as 1.39 billion birds die annually in collisions with human-made structures such as vehicles, buildings and windows, power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines. Mortalities from collisions affect some bird groups more than others.