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Natural World

1 billion birds a year killed by US skyscrapers

April 7, 2019 | Comment icon 12 comments



Skyscrapers have long proven deadly to migrating birds. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Nicolas G. Mertens
New research has revealed just how dangerous tall, reflective buildings are to wild birds in large cities.
While it is certainly no secret that skyscrapers cause a significant number of bird deaths, scientists now believe that the avian death toll could be as much as one billion birds per year.

The skylines of Chicago and Manhattan are particularly deadly, especially to migratory birds.

"They wind up landing somewhere that's unfamiliar, like a sidewalk somewhere," said conservationist Susan Elbin. "Then when daylight comes, and they want to get more food, they'll fly into a tree that they think is a tree, and it's really a reflected tree in some glass building."

"Then they'll slam into the glass, and then they die."
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most birds migrate at night when it is cooler and are drawn towards the bright lights of the cities.

"Every time new scientific literature comes out, we learn more about the problem, and... we can pinpoint the best solutions using the science," said conservation biologist Kaitlyn Parkins.

One way that the number of bird deaths could be reduced would be to turn out the lights at night during certain migratory periods - a practice that some states have already started to adopt.

Implementing 'bird-friendly' building designs could also help to reduce the problem as well.

Ultimately though, it could simply be that skyscrapers and migrating birds just don't mix.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Rolci 3 years ago
Well, I don't live in a country with skyscrapers so I wouldn't know, but are there heaps of dead birds at the bottom of these skyscrapers every morning then, all around and by the entrance, like some kind of mass grave?
Comment icon #4 Posted by and then 3 years ago
An Den?† An What?† I have no particular hatred for any living creature but I also have other things to worry about than unfortunate birds...
Comment icon #5 Posted by JoshuaTheOracle 3 years ago
This is very concerning. In addition to other issues accelerating the depopulation of birds, we may end up with the Mao Zedong effect. Without a balanced number of natural predators for incests, we can see farming impacted, and the ecological balance of the food chain knocked pretty harshly. The results, of course, can be simulated, we may not even know the full extent of what the eventuality is we do not find a solution for an ultra-infrastructured civilization to co-exist with nature
Comment icon #6 Posted by marsman 3 years ago
† what a typo.....
Comment icon #7 Posted by Habitat 3 years ago
Seriously doubt these figures, if a billion birds died flying into tall buildings, the ground around them would show the evidence.
Comment icon #8 Posted by aztek 3 years ago
as someone who works with skyscraper in Manhattan,†for almost 2 decades i do not buy it for a second. † if this was the case, our cleaner crews would be picking up dozens if not hundreds of dead birds a day, but they do not,†
Comment icon #9 Posted by aztek 3 years ago
nope, nothing like that
Comment icon #10 Posted by Big Jim 3 years ago
Even if this was true, I wonder what the breakdown is in birds per building.† Also breakdown by species.† I imagine the majority would be pigeons, since they seem to be the dominant bird in urban environments.† In general they are a nuisance so other than the mess it would be no great loss.
Comment icon #11 Posted by marsman 3 years ago
US skyscrapers kill up to 1bn birds a year † meanwhile billions more birds are born....
Comment icon #12 Posted by fred_mc 3 years ago
That would be about 30 birds per second crashing into US skyscrapers, pretty astounding.


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