Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 19, 2023

Contact:

Tara Zuardo, (415) 419-4210, tzuardo@biologicaldiversity.org

Five Steps Chicago’s McCormick Place Can Take to Curb Bird Deaths

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today sent a letter urging the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns Chicago’s McCormick Place Lakeside Center, to immediately take five key steps to reduce bird collisions. The letter follows an Oct. 4 event in which almost 1,000 migratory birds were killed after crashing into the building’s glass exterior.

The letter identified several well-tested options that McCormick Place could put in place immediately to significantly reduce bird collisions.

“Experts say that up to 2,000 birds die every year from flying into McCormick Place, so the folks who run this bird hazard need to act now,” said Tara Zuardo, a senior advocate at the Center. “With America’s bird populations under tremendous pressure, there’s no excuse for further delay. I really hope the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority takes immediate action to protect migratory birds.”

The Center made a number of suggestions regarding both short- and long-term solutions to prevent migratory bird collisions at McCormick Place, including but not limited to requesting that the Authority:

  • Implement a complete “lights out” policy during migration season until the problem is corrected (see below).
  • For the remainder of the year, ensure blinds, shades and/or shutters are in place and closed to reduce nighttime light that attracts and confuses birds.
  • To alert birds to the presence of glass during the daytime, take immediate steps to cover portions of windows with parachute cords, tempera paint, screens, netting, tape or decals.
  • Commit to applying one of many well-tested permanent products that can be installed to remediate the building’s glass, including film or tape applied to the windows, or acid-etching, fritting, and/or frosting the windows.
  • Commit $2 million to protect and restore migratory bird habitat to mitigate for the loss of birds that has already occurred.

Located right on Lake Michigan, McCormick Place has caused bird deaths in the past, but not to this extent. State agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority have all failed to effectively or adequately avoid, minimize and mitigate take of migratory birds, the Center notes. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority had a voluntary lights-out policy during migration. But because there was an event occurring on the night the mortality occurred, the lights were on, highlighting the importance of buildings like McCormick taking additional measures to protect migratory birds.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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