Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | May 14, 2013

The Dark Side of Migration

This year, after a slow start to spring migration, one night (May 9, 2013,) the RADAR lit up with signs of migration. The next day,  I went about my daily business, and attended my “9-5 job” in Jersey City, stepped off the bus, and was shocked at what I saw – CARNAGE!

I discovered the bodies of 4 birds (1 female Common Yellowthroat (pictured below), and 3 White-throated Sparrows (in a line) along with 1 very stunned and unresponsive Catbird.)

That was just in my half-block walk from the bus to my building’s entrance. I can only wonder what I would have tallied had I walked around the building, or down the block for that matter.

This female Common Yellowthroat was one of a few birds that did not survive a heavy night of Migration in urban Jersey City, NJ

This female Common Yellowthroat was one victim of a building strike after a heavy night of migration in urban Jersey City, NJ (May 10, 2013)


This got me thinking… what role do man-made structures play in conservation issues?

I was aware there was an impact, but just didn’t realize how wide-spread the issue was, until I was faced with five victims literally right under my feet!

It is estimated that a billion birds die each year when they collide with buildings, wind turbines and communication towers.

The American Bird Conservancy shared the following statistics on their website which paints a brutal picture:

Collisions with:

Year of estimate

Mortality estimate low

Mortality estimate high

Wind turbines


         100,000 (2010)

          440,000 (2009)





Power lines








Urban light








  • In the case of building strikes, birds are not able to distinguish between reflections and reality. It is reported that over 300  species of birds have been victims of building strikes in the U.S.
    • Existing structures can incorporate elements to buildings to create “visual barriers” which the birds are able to distinguish as an obstacle.
  • An estimated 7 million birds are killed each year when the strike communication towers. Species of concern that have been noted in high volumes include: Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Seaside Sparrow.
    • One study suggests that by replacing non-blinking (aviation safety) lights atop these towers with strobe-type lights, the numbers of kills are greatly reduced.

In 2010, the House of Representatives introduced H.R.4797 – the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2010to amend title 40, United States Code, to direct the Administrator of General Services to incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features into public buildings, and for other purposes.”     

The bill died, and was reintroduced in 2011 as H.R. 1643 – Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2011 which also died when it was referred to committee.

We can each help by making our own spaces visually “safe” for birds, and encouraging legislators to support bills like the ones mentioned above. Persistance pays off, and we can have a voice if we all join together.


For more information, visit:

American Bird Conservancy :

Birds and Buildings :


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