Nearly 1,000 birds killed at Chicago building during massive migration

Volunteers collected at least 961 birds

City buildings can be deadly for birds, particularly during migrations, when interior lights confuse night-flying birds and send them crashing into windows. Along a major flight corridor, the city of Chicago can pose particular risks. But the number of birds found dead at one Chicago building stunned people who monitor birds in the city.

At the McCormick Place Lakeside Center, volunteers gathered at least 961 bird carcasses to take to the Field Museum, which keeps records of birds that are collected.

Douglas Stotz, a senior conservation ecologist at the museum, told the New York Times he was “blown away” both by the number of migrating birds in the sky and the number that were found dead.

Stotz said the large number of birds in flight was likely due a brief window of favorable weather conditions.

Volunteers gathered about 961 bird carcasses from the McCormick Center to send to the Field Museum, which maintains records of bird fatalities in the city. Credit: Lauren Nassef/Chicago Field Museum

No more than 200 birds had been known to strike the convention center in a single day. Only four stories tall, the convention center participates in Lights Out Chicago, a program managed by the Chicago Audubon Society that encourages building owners to reduce their lights during migration.

“We deeply appreciate our community’s concern for the welfare of birds and your engagement with our efforts to mitigate these issues, and we are in discussion with industry experts to look for better solutions to protect our avian neighbors,” McCormick Place said in a statement.

Read more from the New York Times.

Header Image: The McCormick Place Lakeside Center isn’t particularly tall, but it’s glassy exterior can be deadly to migrating birds. Credit: Richard Yuan