18 July 2024
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Chicago Bird Protection: Advocates Call for Stronger Measures

The city of Chicago has long been a vital stop for migrating birds traveling along the Mississippi Flyway. However, the city’s skyline poses a significant threat to these birds, with thousands dying or getting injured each year due to collisions with buildings. Bird safety advocates have been pushing for stronger measures to protect these avian visitors, but a recent policy update from the city has left them disappointed.

Annette Prince, the chair of Bird Friendly Chicago, a coalition of local birding and conservation groups, expressed her concerns about the draft policy update. She emphasized that bird safety measures should not be optional but rather mandatory to ensure the well-being of these valuable creatures and maintain a healthy environment. The advocates argue that such measures are essential for protecting bird lives and supporting the ecosystem that depends on them.

City’s Response to Bird Safety Concerns

In response to the advocates’ concerns, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development has defended the proposed policy update, emphasizing that it gives additional weight to bird-safe building options. While the update does not mandate bird safety measures, it incentivizes developers to choose these measures by awarding more points for incorporating them into their projects. This approach aims to encourage developers to prioritize bird safety alongside other sustainable design considerations.

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Deputy Commissioner Peter Strazzabosco highlighted that the draft policy update includes specific categories for bird safety measures, allocating more points to incentivize their adoption. These points are crucial for developers seeking the city’s approval for new buildings or renovations, making bird-friendly design a more attractive option.

Challenges Faced by Migrating Birds in Chicago

Despite some efforts, such as seasonal lights-out programs and volunteer bird monitoring initiatives, migrating birds in Chicago continue to face significant challenges. The transparent and reflective surfaces of buildings, along with certain landscaping and lighting practices, contribute to the high number of bird collisions in the city. Bird advocates stress the urgent need for stronger regulations to address these threats and protect the bird populations passing through Chicago.

The recent incident at McCormick Place Lakeside Center, where nearly a thousand birds perished in a single day due to collisions with glass windows, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by migratory birds in urban environments. The proposed policy update aims to address such incidents and mitigate the risks posed by buildings to bird populations.

Future Steps for Bird Protection in Chicago

While the current policy update falls short of the mandatory measures advocated by bird safety groups, there are ongoing efforts to further enhance bird protection in Chicago. Advocates are determined to pursue an ordinance that would establish clear requirements for bird-safe building design, similar to existing laws in other cities like New York and San Francisco.

Regardless of the outcome of the proposed policy update, bird advocates are committed to continuing their work to ensure the safety and well-being of migrating birds in Chicago. By raising awareness about the importance of bird protection and pushing for stronger regulations, they aim to create a safer environment for these avian travelers and uphold the city’s commitment to conservation and sustainability.

Links to additional Resources:

1. abcbirds.org 2. audubon.org 3. birdlife.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Bird migration, Bird-friendly building design, Bird collision prevention

Bird migration
Bird migration is a seasonal movement of birds between breeding and wintering grounds that occurs twice a year. It is typically from north to south or from south to north. Migration is inherently risky, due to predation and mortality. The Arctic tern holds the long-distance migration record for birds, travelling...
Read more: Bird migration

Bird–window collisions
Bird–window collisions (also known as bird strikes after the aviation term or as window strikes) are a problem in both low- and high-density areas worldwide. Birds strike glass because reflective or transparent glass is often invisible to them. It is estimated that between 100 million and 1 billion birds are...
Read more: Bird–window collisions

Bird strike
A bird strike (sometimes called birdstrike, bird ingestion (for an engine), bird hit, or bird aircraft strike hazard (BASH)) is a collision between an airborne animal (usually a bird or bat) and a moving vehicle (usually an aircraft). The term is also used for bird deaths resulting from collisions with...
Read more: Bird strike

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