A City of Glass Towers and a Hazard for Migratory Birds
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Karen Dawn, DawnWatch
September 2011

New York Times (Thursday, September 15) included an article by Lisa Foderaro titled, "A City of Glass Towers and a Hazard for Migratory Birds."

While the piece focuses on New York it covers an issue common to many big cities and even discusses how other cities are dealing with the problem. It delivers sad information but gives us hope in learning that the issue is receiving serious attention -- this New York Times article being a welcome example of that attention.

We read of volunteers from the Audubon society spending their mornings picking up dead birds and we learn:

New York is a major stopover for migratory birds on the Atlantic flyway, and an estimated 90,000 birds are killed by flying into buildings in New York City each year, the Audubon group says. Often, they strike the lower levels of glass facades after foraging for food in nearby parks. Some ornithologists and conservationists say such crashes are the second-leading cause of death for migrating birds, after habitat loss, with estimates of the national toll ranging up to a billion a year.

We learn that in San Francisco (naturally) the "San Francisco Planning Commission adopted bird-safety standards for new buildings in July, and this month that city’s Board of Supervisors will vote on making it law."

We read about some of the fixes available: "Opaque or translucent films, decals, dot patterns, shades, mesh screens — even nets." Be we are told that "they have been a tough sell in the high-design world."

There is an interesting quote from Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon: "I hope there will come a time when putting up an all-glass building is like wearing a fur coat. Not that no one will do it, but maybe they’ll think twice about it."

Foderaro shares information about superbly successful efforts that have been made by some buildings. But we read about resistance from the Metropolitan Museum -- that's even though "volunteers have found 20 to 120 dead birds a year near the museum’s vertical expanse of glass facing west into Central Park."

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