Employees in Galveston, Texas came across a staggering scene when they found 395 migratory birds dead or dying outside of the American National Insurance building. The 23-story building is the highest in the city and collided with the birds migrating to northern nesting sites. 25 different species were recovered outside of the building including Nashville and Blackburnian warblers, redstarts, ovenbirds, and orioles.
Experts say that high winds and the building lights could have both played a role in this mass death. Some claim that the lights from the building could have mimicked sunlight or moonlight, while the high winds would have forced the birds to fly lower than usual, which increased their chances of coming in contact with the building.
With spring in the air, more and more birds will be migrating across the continent, and buildings will no doubt claim many more birds. It is estimated that every year 1 billion birds die after colliding with building windows each year in North America. We often picture human encroachment on animals’ habitats as a bunch of people bulldozing down Bambi’s home. However, many large cities are smack dab in the middle of migratory paths. During the day windows can reflect the sky or features like trees and shrubs, and at night extensive building light can also attract birds which results in death.
There are ways that businesses and individuals can prevent these deaths either by turning off extensive building lights at night or bird-proofing their windows by attaching window markers. As tragic as these deaths were in Texas, it is once again a cautionary tale that we are not the only inhabitants on this planet and that we need to be more considerate to those we share it with.