Help Make Pittsburgh BirdSafe!

Song sparrow dead, Golden-crowed kinglet stunned by collisions (photos by Kate St. John and Shawn Collins)

Here's the project I've been praying for.  I hope you can help.

As I know too well, windows are a huge cause of death in birds.  Each year up to 1 billion birds die by hitting windows in the U.S. and some of them are Pittsburgh's juvenile peregrines.  The problem is especially acute during spring and fall migration when thousands of birds pass through North American cities in the dark.  Half are killed outright. The others are stunned and need time to recuperate.  The song sparrow above died in a window-strike at WQED.  The stunned golden-crowned kinglet, rescued by Shawn Collins, is showing his yellow crown because he has a big headache!

Across North America innovative cities are working to make their towns safer for birds.  Now, thanks to a coalition of seven organizations(*), Pittsburgh is poised to join Toronto, Minneapolis-St.Paul, San Francisco and a host of others to make our town "bird safe."   The project begins this month.

For six weeks during migration -- mid-April through May -- BirdSafe Pittsburgh needs volunteers to walk portions of downtown daily for an hour or two in the early morning, looking for stunned or dead birds.  Stunned birds will be rescued. All birds will be counted.

If you have free time in the early morning, and especially if you work Downtown, this project is for you!

Meet at the National Aviary, 100 Arch Street, on Sunday 13 April 2014, noon-to-2:00pm to learn what to do.   Questions?  Email Matt Webb at

I hope you can help.

Let's make Pittsburgh BirdSafe!


(photo of window-killed song sparrow by Kate St. John. photo of collision-stunned golden-crowned kinglet by Shawn Collins)

(*) The coalition includes: American Bird Conservancy, National Aviary, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Powdermill, Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center, Green Building Alliance, and Chatham University.

9 thoughts on “Help Make Pittsburgh BirdSafe!

  1. Finally! I’ve been so jealous of the plans, efforts, and measures taken in other cities. I contacted my councilmember, but that is all the more I ever got around to. I c/sh-ould have done more. So glad to see this going on now though!

  2. Two days ago as I was sitting in my dining room I heard a solid “thunk.” I saw a bit of powder on the bay window and feared it was a bird strike. Yes–a bird lay motionless in the back yard. I hoped it might revive but hours later it hadn’t. I cut a piece of paper into a crude falcon shape and taped it to the window, hoping to avert any further bird deaths. The bay window is crammed with plants, much greener than the outside now.

  3. If you belong to Ducks Unlimited, they’re always sending out those duck silhouette decals, which can be applied to a window and serve as a deterrence. I haven’t had a hit since I put them up, along with the UV decals.

  4. used falcon and owl silhouettes in my old apartment. They stopped the bird strikes quite effectively. Do not have that problem in the new apartment, though I still have the silhouettes in my graphics folder 🙂
    And as Kate and Matt know, I’ll be at that meeting!

  5. Kate, is the next step getting buildings to shut off their lights at night? Hopefully that will be one of the things the data is used for.

    1. Melissa, yes I think the lights will be one of the recommendations. There’s a lot to do, so many hazards.

  6. This would be wonderful to distribute information to the many, many buildings downtown and help them ward of the birds hitting the windows. It breaks my heart. I can’t attend the meeting but I’d love to get some information so see how I might be able to help. I do work downtown.

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