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Chimney swifts collide with windows

Building collisions are a major threat to birds. The incident at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in North Carolina involving hundreds of chimney swifts shows just how severe this threat can be.

I saw a photo on Facebook that made me gasp — dozens of dead chimney swift birds lined up on a white sheet.

It was shared by a local Audubon Society page, and this morning I had a press release in my inbox from the American Bird Conservancy.

More than 300 of these birds had crashed into the windows of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. More than 100 have died, but Carolina Waterfowl Rescue is working to save as many birds as they can.

The American Bird Conservancy said these building collisions happened "at full flight speed."

Why did this happen?

"Why they were aloft at night is hard to know, but the building’s bright lights likely played a role in attracting them and possibly blinding and disorienting them, leading the flock to collide with windows and walls," according to the news release. 

Glass windows often disorient birds, too, because they reflect the outside and appear to be a good place to fly.

While this is just one unfortunate incident in North Carolina, birds collide with buildings all the time and all over the country. About 1 billion birds die each year in this country because of it. 

To help minimize this problem, here are some things we can do:

• Turn off lights, especially at night;

• Put decals, stickers or sun catchers on windows;

• Install screens over windows;

• Use one-way transparent film.

There are many other ideas on Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website.

 — Gwendolyn Craig

 

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1

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