Like moths to a flame, migrating birds looking to rest and refuel are drawn to the bright lights of downtown Cleveland. For many it will be their last stop. Each year, thousands of birds heading to and from Canada and the tropics plow into downtown buildings, leaving many of the tiny, feathered visitors dead or wounded on sidewalks and windowsills.
Once upon a time, a boy looked up and saw the sky. Out in the lands of Geauga County, where trees bled gold and alpacas roamed, he saw the stars.
Forty-four percent of bird/window collisions happen with low-rise and residential buildings. Birds just don’t understand glass and fly into windows at incredible speed. Biologist Matt Shumar has some easy ways to make your home safer for birds. First, reduce lighting, which attracts birds. Turn outdoor lights off during spring and fall. Second, make windows visible to birds by applying special stickers (not the fake hawk and falcon type — the goal is to break up the image). There’s more, too.
As we enjoy the beauty of fall in Ohio, bird migration is well underway in our state. Ohio is blessed as one of the best places to witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles. Warblers, shorebirds, hawks, and waterfowl are moving through our state in vast numbers, following age-old routes from northern nesting grounds to warmer winter hideaways. There are countless places to enjoy this phenomenon, from your own backyard, to the local park, and to our great state parks, national wildlife refuges, and national park sites.
A crowded classroom greeted SaraJane Kukawka, seasonal naturalist at the Rocky River Nature Center, on Sunday afternoon as she educated visitors about methods for lowering migratory bird losses from collisions with buildings.
After two hours of active scouting for dead or injured birds in the dark, a group with Lights Out Cleveland early Thursday morning was delighted to come up empty-handed, to find not one fragile flyer that had collided with a building and dropped to the ground.
On a warm May morning this spring, Kandace Glanville walked past Mirror Lake on The Ohio State University campus, gingerly holding a paper lunch bag in her right hand. She strode through dewy grass until she reached the edge of a small wooded area just west of Browning Amphitheatre. Glanville squatted, removed the paper clip securing the bag, and reached in. She pulled out a Bay-breasted Warbler, a tiny bird just 5.5 inches long, stunned from colliding with a window on campus earlier that morning.
It’s known as the biggest week in American birding and for good reason. “We’ve got three big migratory fronts coming through, and they all come through here all at the same time of year,” Don Bauman from California said. Every year birds of all kinds pass through Northwest Ohio as they head north for the summer. Not far behind the feathered creatures are those who enjoy watching them on their way.
Lights out — or lights on? That’s the question that is beginning to roil downtown skyscraper owners and operators as a group of volunteers pushes for a Lights Out Cleveland campaign during periods of bird migration in the spring and fall.
While all of the windows and bright lights from buildings like these in Columbus might look nice to us, for birds, they can be deadly. A group called Lights Out Columbus came together to help make sure that birds can safely migrate through Ohio.