Chicago’s McCormick Place Lakeside Center saw a tragic event when thousands of migrating birds collided with the convention centre due to adverse weather and other factors. The Chicago Field Museum and the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors found over two thousand dead birds after the incident, with many others likely injured. Annette Prince, the Director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, described the scene as “a carpet of dead and dying and injured birds.”
Contributing factors include a sudden rush of birds migrating simultaneously, foggy and low cloud conditions leading them to fly at lower altitudes and confusion from building lights. Large clear glass panels also added to the confusion, causing birds to see them as open spaces and try to fly into them.
Andrew Farnsworth, an ornithologist at Cornell University, noted the rarity and unfortunate nature of the incident. McCormick Place highlighted the unusual weather during the peak migration season in their statement, expressing their concern for the well-being of migratory birds. Measures were taken to turn off lights in unoccupied buildings to reduce further risks.
However, as noted in a 2019 report, building collisions cause the death of around 600 million birds annually in the US, with Chicago being the most dangerous city. Experts like Farnsworth and Prince advocate for “bird-friendly” glass and reduced light pollution to prevent such incidents.