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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Local Audobon Society Looking for S.F. Volunteers: Collect, Count Dead Birds -- at 5 a.m.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge Chicago, before and after 11 p.m., when city skyscrapers nix unneeded lights to keep migrating birds from flying into buildings - ERIC FOGLEMAN, AUDOBON SOCIETY
  • Eric Fogleman, Audobon Society
  • Chicago, before and after 11 p.m., when city skyscrapers nix unneeded lights to keep migrating birds from flying into buildings
Second to Col. Sanders, flying into windows is the major cause of death for North American birds. The Audobon Society estimates it may claim 100 million or more of our feathered friends yearly.

Now they're hoping San Franciscans will help them count. At 5 a.m.

"They keep the streets pretty clean in downtown San Francisco and if we waited, they might wash away the carcasses," explains Mike Lynes, the conservation director at Golden Gate Audobon.
click to enlarge Chicago, before and after 11 p.m., when city skyscrapers nix unneeded lights to keep migrating birds from flying into buildings - ERIC FOGLEMAN, AUDOBON SOCIETY
  • Eric Fogleman, Audobon Society
  • Chicago, before and after 11 p.m., when city skyscrapers nix unneeded lights to keep migrating birds from flying into buildings

The dead bird count is part of the Audobon Society's push to document just how many birds are killed flying into the city's tallest downtown buildings -- especially at night. Those driving into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge are treated to the ethereally beautiful sight of the city's skyscrapers illuminated from within at night, but that same vision can be deadly for migrating birds. Lynes explains that, especially in foggy conditions (i.e., many days in San Fran), birds seem to confuse lights in glass buildings with the stars above and fly toward them.

Audobon has kicked off its local push for a program called "Lights Out for the Birds." Cities such as Toronto and Chicago have already adopted it, likely saving hundreds of thousands of nocturnally migrating birds -- and millions of dollars. Lynes notes that one plaza complex in Toronto reported that turning off the lights in evening hours saved it $200,000 yearly.

The owners and tenants of the city's 44 tallest buildings are being queried by Audobon about shutting off those lights (for that list of structures -- and heights -- click here: Tall buildings.doc.) Among the local species that could be saved by dimming or shutting off the lights: Warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, and shorebirds.

Interested parties should contact Lynes here.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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