Migrating birds hurt badly after glass collisions


Minnesota Audubon says making the glass visible to birds can prevent these casualties.

ROSEVILLE, Minn. — It’s that time of year again, and birds are on the move.

The Twin Cities are right in the middle of a major migration route and it’s proving deadly for hundreds of birds. 

It’s something bird enthusiasts and football fans are familiar with. 

You may remember the 2019 study that found birds were flying into US Bank Stadium and dying. The stadium is still considering whether to retrofit its transparent glass.

Still, experts say the problem is solvable — the solutions, easy — and could save a billion birds every year that die from striking windows in North America.

Veterinarian Miranda Torkelson is treating three birds just on Tuesday that hit windows, including a young Pileated woodpecker and a migrating blue-headed vireo. 

“Migrating birds are more at risk for window strikes because they’re not familiar with the area,” said Torkelson.

It’s unclear how many birds die from window strikes in Minnesota every year, but experts like Jerry Bahls, know why they do.

“The glass issue is a big issue,” said the former president of Audubon Minnesota.

Buildings, skyways and stadiums that are made mostly of glass are what’s called “see-through” hazards.

“They think they’re flying into a safe area and, of course, they’re interceded and killed,” said Bahls. He says the solution is simple, and it’s found at the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley.

It installed bird-safe glass after 40 birds a year would hit the window and die. The lines spaced four inches apart is a special treatment that lets birds know it’s not a free passage.

“And now they get maybe one or two a year,” he said.

The glass can cost up to 10% more. US Bank Stadium is still considering changes after Audubon Minnesota said 111 birds die every year from hitting that glass. While Allianz Field was intentionally built without reflective glass.

There’s also the Minneapolis sky ordinance that requires new skyways have bird-safe glazing.

But migrating birds fly at night, so it’s important to switch off the lights in tall buildings, which can attract and confuse birds. 

If that all sounds overwhelming, here are some things we can all do right now: 

Turn off your porch light; add a decal or sticker to your window; or even a shutter or overhang.