In just one evening, Chicago became a city full of hundreds of dead birds. More than a thousand birds died when flying one evening and they crashed into a single building in the city, filling the streets with endless bird bodies. These birds were collected around the city, some having died on impact while others continued to fly for a bit before dying from their injuries. Local volunteers working with an organization, Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, collected the birds all over the city and brought them to the Chicago Field Museum for examinations.
Experts hypothesized that the birds flew primarily into the McCormick Place Lakeside Center.
The director of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, Annette Prince, spoke to CNN about the situation and expressed her grave sadness and shock over the situation. She described the feeling of seeing all of the dead bird bodies as “overwhelming and tragic.” She went on to say that she “went to a building where, when I walked up to the building, it was like there was just a carpet of dead and dying and injured birds.”
The definite causes of the crashes and deaths are unknown for sure, but there are many theories as to contributing factors that people believe likely worked together to create this gruesome scene. Currently, there is a massive bird migration as birds are flying south for winter. With this said, it explains the sheer number of birds all flying together at once. At the same time, the birds were flying in very harsh weather conditions, not quite suitable for their migration patterns. This likely affected the physical abilities of the birds to fly as well as likely impacted their vision. Lastly, the building in which causes most of the deaths, the McCormick Place Lakeside Center, has a lack of “bird-friendly” building measures in place. That means that, in addition to the harsh weather and limited visibility, the poor infrastructure managed to stump the birds, leading to the crashes.
Experts explained what happened as essentially a mass of negative factors leading to a bird pileup.
Interestingly, experts stated that buildings with lights left on at night actually serve as an attractive sight for birds, rather than a repelling one. Originally, they thought this may have caused further problems for the birds, until they continued to crash in the daytime when any lights were no longer visible. They then connected the fact that the walls are large, expansive windows, making it look like open space to the birds.