Reports say that nearly 1,000 songbirds fatally crashed into the windows of an exhibition hall in northeastern Illinois on Wednesday evening.
The birds crashed into the Lakeside Center and other campus building on the grounds of McCormick Place, a well known convention center in Chicago.
According to a post on X from the facility’s management, “Unusual weather conditions during the peak of the Fall 2023 migration season in the city coupled with avian confusion that comes from light emanating from the buildings” reportedly caused the deaths.
“It was just like a carpet of dead birds at the windows there,” said retired bird division collections manager at the Chicago Field Museum David Willard, to The Associated Press. “In 40 years of keeping track of what’s happening at McCormick, we’ve never seen anything remotely on that scale.”
“[W]e are truly saddened by this incident,” the McCormick Place management added. The campus’ six-acre Bird Sanctuary and participation in a Chicago-wide Lights Out Program “has helped reduce the number of bird collisions on campus by 80%.” The campus’ Lakeside Center hosted an event during the week and lights were turned off when a space was unoccupied, the statement noted.
Thirty-three species of birds were identified across the 964 dead birds, the AP reported, with most of them being various forms of warblers.
The birds were flying south along the Lake Michigan shoreline but were forced to lower their altitude due to rain in the early hours of the day, making them face the low-slung, illuminated structures at McCormick Place.
Migratory birds are often tricked by reflections of trees and open skies from glass buildings, and between 100 million and one billion are lured to their deaths every year, according to the National Audubon Society. Bird-safe glass, which is glass fitted with ceramic frits, serigraphs or ultraviolet coating, helps to render glass visible to birds and thereby prevent fatal collisions but is reportedly more expensive than standard glass.
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