Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Which U.S. Cities Are the Most Dangerous for Migratory Birds?

Popular
Birds flying near skyscrapers in Chicago, the most dangerous U.S. city for migrating birds. FTiare /
iStock / Getty Images Plus

What are the most dangerous U.S. cities for migratory birds?

That's the question answered by a new study published last week in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, which looked at the problem of light pollution. Seventy percent of bird species present in the U.S. are migratory, and more than 80 percent of those species migrate at night. The increasing light pollution of cities attracts the avian travelers, who then crash into buildings. Building collisions kill an estimated 600 million birds in the U.S. every year, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which led the study.

The researchers created two lists for the cities that pose the greatest risk to birds during both the spring and fall migratory season, based on both geography and light pollution.


Spring

  1. Chicago
  2. Houston
  3. Dallas
  4. Los Angeles
  5. St. Louis
  6. Minneapolis
  7. Kansas City
  8. New York
  9. Atlanta
  10. San Antonio

Fall

  1. Chicago
  2. Houston
  3. Dallas
  4. Atlanta
  5. New York
  6. St. Louis
  7. Minneapolis
  8. Kansas City
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Philadelphia

"Chicago, Houston, and Dallas are uniquely positioned in the heart of North America's most trafficked aerial corridors. This, in combination with being some of the largest cities in the U.S., make them a serious threat to the passage of migrants, regardless of season," lead study author and Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab.Kyle Horton said.

The rest of the top cities vary between fall and spring, since in the spring more birds travel through the central U.S., and a large number also travel up the West Coast. In the fall, more birds migrate along the Atlantic Coast.

"Now that we know where and when the largest numbers of migratory birds pass heavily lit areas, we can use this to help spur extra conservation efforts in these cities," Cornell Lab Rose postdoctoral fellow and study co-author Cecilia Nilsson said.

Some conservation groups are already aware of the problem.

Chicago Bird Collision Monitors Director Annette Prince told NPR that her group finds 5,000 to 6,000 birds impacted by collision in a square-mile section of downtown Chicago every year. Sixty percent of them die on impact.

"Many of these birds are already in serious decline for other reasons," Prince told NPR. "So when they're hitting buildings, this is adding to the loss of the healthy members of their species by needless collision."

Some solutions include the National Audubon Society's Lights Out program, which encourages communities to dim their lights during peak migration season.

Other ideas include constructing bird-friendly buildings with patterned glass or dimmer lights, The Guardian reported. City councils in New York and Chicago are currently considering legislation that would work bird safety into new building rules.

Horton said that individual homeowners and renters could also play a role in keeping birds safe.

"If you don't need lights on, turn them off," Horton said. "It's a large-scale issue, but acting even at the very local level to reduce lighting can make a difference. While we're hopeful that major reductions in light pollution at the city level are on the horizon, we're excited that even small-scale actions can make a big difference."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A view of a washed out road near Utuado, Puerto Rico, after a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew dropped relief supplies to residents Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. The locals were stranded after Hurricane Maria by washed out roads and mudslides. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Coral Natalie Negrón Almodóvar

The Earth began to shake as Tamar Hernández drove to visit her mother in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 28, 2019. She did not feel that first tremor — she felt only the ensuing aftershocks — but she worried because her mother had an ankle injury and could not walk. Then Hernández thought, "What if something worse is coming our way?"

Read More
Flooded battery park tunnel is seen after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. CC BY 2.0

President Trump has long touted the efficacy of walls, funneling billions of Defense Department dollars to build a wall on the southern border. However, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a study that included plans for a sea wall to protect New Yorkers from sea-level rise and catastrophic storms like Hurricane Sandy, Trump mocked it as ineffective and unsightly.

Read More
Sponsored
A general view of fire damaged country in the The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area near the town of Blackheath on Feb. 21, 2020 in Blackheath, Australia. Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

In a post-mortem of the Australian bushfires, which raged for five months, scientists have concluded that their intensity and duration far surpassed what climate models had predicted, according to a study published yesterday in Nature Climate Change.

Read More
Sea level rise causes water to spill over from the Lafayette River onto Llewellyn Ave in Norfolk, Virginia just after high tide on Aug. 5, 2017. This road floods often, even when there is no rain. Skyler Ballard / Chesapeake Bay Program

By Tim Radford

The Texan city of Houston is about to grow in unexpected ways, thanks to the rising tides. So will Dallas. Real estate agents in Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; and Las Vegas, Nevada could expect to do roaring business.

Read More
Malala Yousafzai (left) and Greta Thunberg (right) met in Oxford University Tuesday. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

What happens when a famous school striker meets a renowned campaigner for education rights?

Read More