Birds strike against buildings

dying birdOn a brisk May morning in 2001, countless dying birds fell like rain from the grey Toronto sky. In the east of the city, outside a hulking 18-storey office complex called Consilium Place, workers on cigarette breaks watched in horror as tiny feathered bodies thudded onto the pavement, fell into their laps, and crashed onto the picnic tables where they had laid out their coffee and morning snacks.

While the office workers sought shelter, a bird enthusiast named Michael Mesure called for backup. As founder of the Fatal Light Awareness Program, or FLAP, Mesure runs a team of volunteers who patrol Toronto in search of birds that have stunned themselves – or worse – by flying into one of the city’s many mirrored-glass skyscrapers. Some mornings Mesure’s team doesn’t find many birds: perhaps just one, or two, or twenty.

On a smaller scale, experts say, such scenes are repeated daily across North America as birds, unable to distinguish between blue sky and what Vladimir Nabokov poetically called „the false azure in the windowpane”, careen into windows at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. The resulting brain damage is thought to kill about 60% of birds on impact, with many of the remainder left nursing chipped beaks or internal injuries that subsequently prove fatal.

In all, it’s estimated that the Toronto skyline accounts for about 1 million bird deaths a year — and even that is just a drop in the bucket. It’s hard to put a precise number on collision-related mortalities, but researcher Scott Loss of the Smithsonian Institute is preparing to publish new research that, based on a sophisticated analysis of 23 previous studies, estimates that between 400 million and 1 billion birds die from window impacts each year in the U.S. alone.

Read the entire article at The Ecologist

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