Group calls for better protection to stop migrating birds crashing into windows

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CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a dreaded and awful sound – a bird crashing into a glass window and falling dead to the ground.

As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported on Tuesday, a local conservation group says it gets calls every five minutes about dying migratory birds.

More than 6.5 million birds passed through Cook County on Monday night alone – and they’re lucky to have made it. Researchers say Chicago – with its towering skyscrapers – is America’s most dangerous city for migrating birds.

Local conservation groups are working to change that.

Annette Prince is keeping her eyes on the sky all May – she spotted a pair of goldfinches in Humboldt Park when McNicholas encountered her.

Prince is the director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitorsa group that tracks bird collisions and tries to protect declining species.

“We are approaching peak migration in the spring,” Prince said. “We are concerned that some of these human-made hazards will cause declines that some of these species will not be able to recover from at some point.”

The group responds to calls from people about dead or injured birds throughout Cook County. Prince sent in a photo of a variety of bird species they found dead a few weeks ago in the Loop.

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Chicago Bird Collision Monitors


“The more glass on a building, the worse it can be,” Prince said.

Now they are getting even more calls. A bird migration forecast map showed the Midwest would be a hotspot for migrating birds on Tuesday night.

And one 2019 Cornell University study found Chicago, full of bright lights and tall glass buildings right in the middle of the country, is America’s most dangerous city for migrating birds.

“We want all new buildings in Chicago to be protected with bird-friendly design features,” Prince said.

This means limiting the amount of glass used in new buildings or using patterned glass so birds can spot a window.

The group is urging City Hall to ensure Bally’s plans for a riverside casino are bird-friendly.

“It’s about the tens of thousands of birds that are injured by buildings every year that pass through Chicago,” Prince said.

The city council has passed a measure aimed in part at making buildings more bird-friendly, but many of the details of that plan are still being worked out. So groups like Bird Collision Monitors won’t stop tweeting anytime soon.

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