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Chicago Image of the Day - Time to Dim the Lights

Dead bird on the pavement nearby a tall building in the Loop, most probably due to collision
Dead bird on the pavement nearby a tall building in the Loop, most probably due to collision
© Ken Ilio

Fall bird migration is now in full swing. Chicago is located on the major bird flyway between North and South America (see: North American Migration Flyways - Mississipi Flyway) and that means, hundreds, if not thousands of birds will be colliding with Chicago skyscrapers on their way to their winter grounds. Birds are attracted to building lights - and they fly toward them, slamming their bodies on window panes. They fall, they die or land alive but stunned and are ran over by cars and uncaring pedestrians or eaten by other scavenging animals.

One of the many reasons why you don't see many dead or stunned birds on the pavement (just like this one I saw yesterday, Sunday September 30) on your way to work in the mornings is that volunteers from the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors go around the Loop several times a week, from dawn till mid-morning to collect the injured, and sadly, the dead birds. The injured go to a rescue hospital for rehab and eventual release while the dead ones go to the Field Museum for cataloging and research.

This is why the program called Lights Out Chicago!, a campaign to lower or turn off excess building lights during the spring and fall migrations is very important (and successful). The Chicago Audubon Society, which coordinates the project, works with building owners and management companies where the collisions are found so that birds are saved.

Chicago is the first city in the US to have this program. It is a joint project of the City of Chicago, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, Audubon and the Field Museum.

In this area of conservation, Chicago works well but more action is needed. Get Involved! Help Chicago Bird Collision Monitors help our feathered friends to make Chicago even safer for them.

More useful articles can be found in the following: Chicago Audubon Society, Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lights, Home to Roost,, Lights Out Chicago (Chicago Birds Collison Monitors site) and WBEZ.


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