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