More Than 1,000 Birds Fly Into Philadelphia Skyscrapers in One Day

by Jennifer Shea

In what bird advocates called a “catastrophic event,” roughly 1,500 birds crashed into Philadelphia skyscrapers and died last Friday.

The bird deaths occurred within a 3½-block radius of City Center in the nighttime and early morning hours, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

Bird experts could only guess at the cause of the bird massacre. They believe a sudden temperature drop may have nudged the birds to begin their migration from Canada, New York, and New England toward Central and South America early. Then, on Friday, Philadelphia saw low cloud cover and light rain, which could have forced the birds to fly lower.

The glass on the skyscrapers likely caused fatal problems for the birds. Lights and indoor atriums in some buildings may have led the birds to believe they could land there. Sidewalk trees also reflect in the glass, appearing to birds as if they are inside the buildings.

“So many birds were falling out of the sky, we didn’t know what was going on,” Audubon volunteer Stephen Maciejewski told the Inquirer, choking up. “It was a really catastrophic event. The last time something like this happened was in 1948.”

On normal days, Maciejewski said he gathers a maximum of around 32 birds per morning.

Maciejewski will bring the birds that he picked up on Friday to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel and log them.

The U.S. House of Representatives in July introduced the Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2019, as the Inquirer pointed out. It requires companies to construct buildings using methods that are designed to prevent bird crashes.

“We have to bring people together to make the glass friendlier to birds,” Maciejewski told the Inquirer. “We’re contributing to the extinction of American songbirds.”