Bird Collision Catastrophe: Chicago Building Claims 1,000

( – In just one day, nearly one thousand birds flew into the glass-covered walls of the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago and dropped dead as they traveled their migration route last week, the Washington Post reported.

Last Thursday, the bodies of several species of migrating birds, including woodcocks, warblers, and sapsuckers, lay dead on the ground surrounding McCormick Place. Volunteers have been working to recover the carcasses that slammed into the convention center and other glass-covered buildings in a one-mile radius of Chicago’s downtown.

According to Annette Prince, the director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a group of volunteers dedicated to protecting migratory birds, while the group says they found a thousand, “that’s just a snapshot.” She said outside of the one square mile area the group looked at, “there could be so many more.”

Prince said from last Wednesday night into Thursday, thousands of birds were migrating through the downtown area, facing the wind, cloudy skies, and the glass exterior of the convention center that stands along the Chicago lakefront. Because the lights of the building were left on for an event, the birds became disoriented, Prince said.

The management at McCormick Place confirmed in a statement on Friday that the building ordinarily participates in Chicago’s “lights out” program that aims to reduce bird collisions by shutting off or dimming lights when the building is not in use. However, last week’s event at the convention center required the lights to remain on.

The carcasses of the birds have been taken to the Chicago Field Museum for study.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, as many as one billion birds die each year striking into buildings in the United States. Chicago is one of the deadliest cities in the US for migrating birds due to its location on migration routes, its large number of glass buildings, and the level of light pollution in the city.

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