Jun 17 2017

Unhappy Friday: Peregrine Window Kill

Published by at 7:15 am under Peregrines

Juvenile Pitt peregrine, 09/AP, in happier days (photo by Peter Bell)

Juvenile Pitt peregrine, 09/AP, in happier days (photo by Peter Bell)

On Friday morning, 16 June 2017, this young male peregrine from the Cathedral of Learning flew head first into a window at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) on Fifth Avenue. He died instantly.

Banded black/green 09/AP, he was the adventurer among this year’s three chicks.  He flew faster, tried more stunts, and chased his parents more than his sisters do.  But, like all birds, he didn’t realize that the reflection of the sky in a window is not the sky.  He never got a second chance to learn.

When he was found dead at SEI’s front door, someone called the Pennsylvania Game Commission. WCO Kline recovered the bird’s body and took this picture of the location where he was found.  There’s a bird-strike smudge on the top right pane in the vault above the front door.

SEI front door vault where 09/AP died (photo by WCO Kline, PA Game Commission)

SEI front door vault where 09/AP died (photo by WCO Kline, PA Game Commission)

From the ground the top right window doesn’t look like the sky, does it?  At a higher elevation the windowpane reflects the sky.  The strike mark’s background is blue.

Front door vault at SEI with peregrine smudge on sky-background of top right glass (photo by Kate St. John)

Front door vault at SEI with peregrine smudge on sky-background of top right glass (photo by Kate St. John)

And here it has a dark reflected background so you can see it.

Feather dust at 09/AP's impact location (photo by Kate St. John)

Feather dust at 09/AP’s impact location (photo by Kate St. John)

 

These photos show why the building fools birds. On every side it looks like open rectangles to the sky.  In 2011, two of Pitt’s young peregrines hit the building on the Henry Street side. One died, one survived.

West wall of SEI, Dithridge Street (photo by Kate St. John)

West wall of Software Engineering Institute, Dithridge Street (photo by Kate St. John)

Front arch of Software Engineering Institute, Fifth Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)

Front arch of Software Engineering Institute, Fifth Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)

Back of Software Engineering Institute, Henry Street (photo by Kate St. John)

Back of Software Engineering Institute, Henry Street (photo by Kate St. John)

 

But this building is not unique.  Over the years young peregrines from the Cathedral of Learning have hit windows at other buildings near Fifth and Craig, died in a chimney (which has since been covered), and been hit by a vehicle.  Unfortunately peregrine mortality is 62.5% in the first year of life.

Meanwhile, windows kill one billion birds every year in the U.S.  You can help mitigate this problem by volunteering in many ways:

  • In many U.S. cities & Canada:  Volunteer with a group that rescues window-stunned birds and tracks window kills. In our area contact BirdSafe Pittsburgh (or their Facebook page).
  • If you know architects and developers, learn about bird-safe glass and urge them to use it.
  • If you have influence with LEED certification of “green” buildings, urge LEED to formally add bird-safe glass to the certification requirements (it’s in the pilot phase now).  Then urge developers to use LEED.
  • Prevent window strikes at home by treating your own windows so they don’t fool birds.

 

(photo of 09/AP by Peter Bell. photo of SEI front door area by WCO Kline; photos of SEI building by Kate St. John)

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Unhappy Friday: Peregrine Window Kill”

  1. Peteron 17 Jun 2017 at 8:54 am

    LEED has a bird safety scoring in the pilot phase.

    http://www.usgbc.org/credits/core-shell-existing-buildings-healthcare-new-construction-retail-nc-schools/v2009/pc55

    It’s been there a while now though as indicated by the 2009 in the link. The good news, they haven’t given up on the credit. Bad news, they’re *still* collecting feedback. I have no idea how long the process takes so this might be normal. Hopefully it gets added to the permanent scoring collection. In either case, getting the option in front of the developer from the start is key as the cost for the best solutions is minimal then.

  2. Trini Regaspion 17 Jun 2017 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for sharing links on how to prevent bird strikes. I was surprised recently to discover multiple instances of bird strikes at my own house this past winter/spring. Fortunately, none fatal. BirdSafe Pittsburgh is always looking for volunteers during migration season. And anyone can simply check their home or workplace and report any window strikes to BirdSafe Pittsburgh.

  3. Joyceon 17 Jun 2017 at 9:53 am

    Sorry to hear CoL lost its juvenile male. How old was 09/AP and how long after fledge date?

  4. Kate St. Johnon 17 Jun 2017 at 10:04 am

    Joyce, he hatched on 4/25/2017 and fledged on 6/7/2017

  5. Sarah Lynnon 17 Jun 2017 at 11:28 am

    In Baltimore, they lost one peregrine earlier, presumably to a window strike, and within the last week, a sibling was observed to hit a window, and is now at a rehab facility. I think the Chesapeake Conservancy may also be working to relieve this problem.

  6. Janeton 17 Jun 2017 at 1:20 pm

    My heart is broken, and I’ve been crying all day. I don’t understand why they have to erect buildings like this. Fly free little one. Let’s hope his two sisters stay safe, and Gulf Tower chicks too.

  7. Lauraon 17 Jun 2017 at 1:45 pm

    This is very sad news Kate. I’m sure he wasn’t in much pain. Those boys are always a little more daring and crazier than the ladies…Good info on bird-safe glass. Thanks as always on keeping me posted; I really enjoy your blog

  8. Patricia Webberon 17 Jun 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Like Janet and I’m sure all of us, I too am unable to stop crying and my heart aches. I understand this is nature, but that doesn’t make the tears stop. I loved them all, but he has always been my favorite. My spunky little boy who stood up for himself with his bigger sisters. It helped to know what a daring guy he turned out to be. I’m so proud of him. Fly safe all you young ladies – God speed..?

  9. Lizon 17 Jun 2017 at 5:36 pm

    I am going to write SEI a note suggesting they look at ways to make their building safer for birds

  10. Susan Shalinskyon 19 Jun 2017 at 7:44 am

    That seems like a really useful thing to do. Perhaps a petition to get them to modify the windows some how would help.

    Thanks.

  11. Sue Hannonon 17 Jun 2017 at 6:36 pm

    I am so sorry at the loss of another fledgling to a window strike. It is so frustrating to see this happen year after year to young falcons (and other bird species) across the US. Especially when there are solutions that could make this happen much less often. My sympathy to all who watched and loved this dynamic little bird through his all-too-brief life. And my best hopes that his sisters will have a safe and successful summer.

  12. Michelle Oon 17 Jun 2017 at 10:45 pm

    So sad to hear this news. Soar to the sky!

  13. Cindy Lisiakon 18 Jun 2017 at 10:31 am

    Sorry to learn of the fledgling’s death. Had he survived, he would know to avoid that in the future. We have a kitchen with a bump out having windows on three sides. We often get bird strikes in the spring. I have sun catchers on all the windows, but young birds just don’t “get it.” Last spring, a female cardinal flew into our large front picture window. I saw her lying in the bed under the window and it looked like she was dead. I rushed out and picked her up. I saw that she was still alive, so I held her in my palm and stroked her. Gradually, she came around enough to perch on my finger. She sat there for the longest time, looking at me, then she flew off my finger on her own power. I assumed she would be OK. It was a very special moment for me holding that wild bird in my hand and knowing that she would be OK.

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