Fall is here and that means many of our feathered friends are headed south. It also means that a new migration Rescue & Recovery season has begun. This morning Arthur and I are walking our route to look for fallen injured or dead birds that have struck buildings in Chicago during the night and early morning. This is our second week volunteering for R&R this fall, following our first season during last spring’s migration. During these weeks, I’d like to highlight some of the perils birds face on their migration by sharing a website or information about migratory birds.
Last week, twin columns of light shone above the former site of the World Trade Center in New York. The Tribute in Light attracted an estimated 10,000 birds who were in the midst of migration. The phenomenon resulted from a sort of perfect storm of conditions. The recent poor weather for migration changed on the night of September 11, 2010, and a large amount of birds who had been waiting out bad weather were suddenly on the move. Some of the birds’ normal methods of navigation were obscured: there was just a sliver of new moon and an overcast sky blocked the stars. The birds became confused by the huge beams of light and ended up flying in circles. You can see them in the video below. Note that the video will start at 0:35, which is shortly before the birds are first seen in the clip.
When the lights were turned off for 20 minutes, the birds moved on. But when the lights were turned back on, more birds became confused and trapped in the light. You can read more about the birds caught by the Tribute in Light here.
This sort of problem is not limited to big light beams as seen with the Tribute in Light. Blog readers know that big buildings with brightly-lit windows cause similar problems.