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Why do glassy towers keep killing so many birds? – ArchPaper

Glass skyscrapers are perfectly suited to encourage bird collisions, but thankfully architects can make small changes with outsized impacts

Birds collected by Melissa Breyer under the glassy World Trade Center towers from the morning of September 14, 2021, alone. (Melissa Breyer)
Birds collected by Melissa Breyer under the glassy World Trade Center towers from the morning of September 14, 2021, alone. (Melissa Breyer)

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When Melissa Breyer, a photographer and volunteer with NYC Audubon’s Project Safe Flight, made her rounds at the World Trade Center complex the morning of September 14, 2021, she found over 200 dead migratory songbirds on sidewalks and around the base of buildings. Most were killed by mid-flight collisions with the complex’s numerous glass facades, likely due in part to a storm that had passed through the region the previous night. The few surviving birds were taken to a sanctuary on the Upper West Side, where about half of those were treated and subsequently released.

The carcasses that Breyer scooped up that morning represent an unusually large number of collision-related bird deaths for a single day at the World Trade Center but only a tiny fraction of the total number of birds killed by such incidents in New York City each year–a figure that the NYC branch of the Audubon Society estimates to be between 90,000 and 230,000. North America as a whole, according to Portland Audubon and other conservation organizations, loses upwards of 1 billion birds to glass impacts annually.

The situation at the World Trade Center is exacerbated by the buildings’ entirely glazed facades and their proximity to the Hudson River, conditions that NYC Audubon’s interim director of conservation and science, Kaitlyn Parkins, described to AN as “particularly lethal.” Birds traveling from summer breeding grounds in the far north to wintering grounds in the tropics or temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere often follow ancestral routes that trace major rivers, lakes, coastlines, and mountain ranges. According to a study published in 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the most perilous U.S. cities for migratory birds are Chicago, Dallas, and Houston, due primarily to their locations along the major Mississippi Flyway migration corridor.

Read on >>> Source: ArchPaper Why do glassy towers keep killing so many birds?

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