Story at a glance

  • Hundreds of birds fatally collided into skyscrapers in New York City this week.
  • A volunteer for New York City Audubon described her experience documenting and collecting the dead birds as "overwhelming."
  • “As soon as I got to the buildings, the birds were everywhere on the sidewalk,” volunteer Melissa Breyer said.

Hundreds of birds fatally collided into skyscrapers in New York City this week — an “overwhelming” event caused partly by inclement weather, but a persistent issue in the city.

A New York City Audubon volunteer highlighted the mass casualty event in a series of tweets Sept. 14 and 15, documenting 291 dead birds. 

“When you have 226 dead window-struck migratory birds from one morning, it’s hard to get them all in one photo,” Melissa Breyer wrote in her thread, additionally citing 65 additional dead birds in a subsequent tweet

The group’s associate director of conservation and science, Kaitlyn Parkins, told The Associated Press the death toll reflects an ongoing issue the organization routinely documents. Parkins added that turbulent weather conditions may have also contributed to the number of fatalities. 

“It seems that the storm might have brought the birds in lower than they would have otherwise have been, or just disoriented them,” Parkins told the AP. “The effects of nocturnal light on birds is also quite strong, especially when it’s a cloudy night.”


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Breyer, the volunteer who documented the hundreds of bird deaths outside of the new World Trade Center buildings, told the outlet the experience was “overwhelming.” 

“As soon as I got to the buildings, the birds were everywhere on the sidewalk,” Breyer said. “Looking north, covered, south, covered, west, covered, the sidewalks were literally covered with birds.”

Parkins is asking the owners of the towers to make it safer for the birds  possibly by dimming the lights  to “make it so that they can see it and recognize that it’s a solid barrier that they cannot fly through.”


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A spokesperson for the Durst Organization, co-developer of One World Trade Center, told the AP the first 200 feet of the building are “encased in glass fins that are non-reflective,” noting the design was intentionally chosen “because it greatly reduces bird strikes.” 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Silverstein Properties, the developer of three other trade center skyscrapers, told the AP they are “actively encouraging” office tenants to “turn off their lights at night and lower their blinds wherever possible, especially during the migratory season.”

Seventy-seven birds were taken to a rehab facility on Tuesday, a majority coming from the trade center area, Wild Bird Fund director Ritamary McMahon told the AP. Thirty recovered and were subsequently released in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 


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Published on Sep 17, 2021