Chubby blue bird

Which Cities Have The Highest Rate of Bird and Building Collisions?

  April 5, 2019

By Dan Hounsell

Birds and buildings don’t mix, and researchers can pinpoint the cities that are the greatest threat to birds, as well as the reasons.

An estimated 600 million birds die from building collisions every year in the U.S., according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A team of researchers ranked metropolitan areas where, due to a combination of light pollution and geography, birds are at the greatest risk of becoming attracted to and disoriented by lights and crash into buildings.

Among their findings: While migration routes vary depending on the season, the same three large cities in the central U.S. — Chicago, Houston and Dallas — top both the spring and autumn lists of most dangerous for migrating birds.

“Those three cities are uniquely positioned in the heart of North America’s most trafficked aerial corridors. This, in combination with being some of the largest cities in the U.S., makes them a serious threat to the passage of migrants, regardless of season,” says Kyle Horton, a Rose postdoctoral fellow at the lab.

“Now that we know where and when the largest numbers of migratory birds pass heavily lit areas, we can use this to help spur extra conservation efforts in these cities,” said study co-author Cecilia Nilsson, also a Rose postdoctoral fellow at the Lab of Ornithology. “For example, Houston Audubon uses bird migration forecasts from the Lab’s BirdCast program to run ‘lights out’ warnings on nights when big migratory movements are expected over the city.”

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.



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