Search for answers after 300 chimney swifts slam into NASCAR Hall of Fame

Molly Daly
October 22, 2019 - 6:30 pm
An injured Chimney Swift.

Courtesy of Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Last week, 300 migrating chimney swifts slammed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. It appears the birds were caught in a perfect storm of human-made hazards, all of them avoidable.

Chimney swifts work the day shift, so bird window collision consultant Heidi Trudell says it's not clear why they were flying around Charlotte at 11 at night.

"For them to be out after dusk", she said, "implies that their roost was disturbed."
 
Or gone altogether, as large industrial chimneys fall by the wayside.

Birds are attracted and disoriented by artificial light, and that may have drawn them to the building, where they faced another hazard: a wall of windows.

"Birds hit windows because they cannot see glass," Trudell explains. "They either see reflections, or they see through the window to whatever's on the other side of it."

Window strikes kill about a billion birds a year in North America. 

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But Audubon Pennsylvania's Keith Russell says there are simple solutions you can try at home, starting with visually breaking up the glass at four inch intervals. 

"Putting dots or stripes or something like that on the glass so that birds see that as a barrier and say 'I can't fly through all that'," he explained, "but it's not so dense that people can't also see."

Russell recommends the Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy as great resources for bird-safe solutions. You can see them in use at the Discovery Center in Strawberry Mansion, Mill Grove in Audubon, and the Heinz Refuge visitor's center.