How to make NYC work better for its winged inhabitants


EARLY-RISING NEW YORKERS could spot an uncommon patrol group in Manhattan this autumn. They sport wise sneakers, latex gloves and an armful of brown paper luggage. As in spring, they comb the streets for migrating birds which have struck home windows. They’re Venture Protected Flight volunteers, out to avoid wasting the injured and rely the lifeless.

It’s a powerful gig. Fruzsina Agocs noticed her first yellow-billed cuckoo, a shy species that’s laborious to identify, lifeless on the pavement. “That was not the way in which I wished to see it,” she says. However she is cautiously optimistic that she could have fewer such encounters sooner or later. Previously couple of years New York has moved to the forefront of a push to make cities extra welcoming to their avian neighbours.

New York—like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington—sits beneath the “Atlantic Flyway”, an historical migration route travelled by tens of millions of birds, from teeny warblers to long-legged shorebirds, each spring and autumn. As much as 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 of them die colliding with home windows in New York yearly, in response to New York Metropolis Audubon, the chicken charity that organises Venture Flight Protected. Birds confuse reflections of sky or vegetation for the true factor and fly straight for them.

In 2021, nonetheless, new laws got here into drive in New York requiring all new buildings and renovations to be made bird-friendly. Particularly, they need to use glass that birds recognise as surfaces, which is often achieved by incorporating tiny dots. It’s the most stringent such laws in America, spurred by the compelling case of the Jacob Okay. Javits Conference Centre in west Manhattan. It was once a high bird-killer, however after swapping its panes for bird-friendly glass in 2013 strikes dropped by 90%. The centre has now absolutely embraced chicken life. Its inexperienced roof is house to a breeding herring gull colony, and as of October 18th, 62 completely different species have been noticed there—most lately tree-climbing brown creepers and vibrant northern parulas.

Different locations at the moment are following New York’s lead. Maryland’s model of the regulation went into impact this month, and Washington, DC’s will start subsequent 12 months. And whereas the regulation doesn’t apply to New York’s 1m present buildings, some are taking voluntary steps. This month the Circa constructing by Central Park, one other notorious bird-killer, coated its courtyard home windows with translucent UV dot stickers which can be extra seen to birds than people, hoping to shed its unhealthy fame.

At evening synthetic gentle attracts birds into the town, the place they’re extra prone to crash; some research recommend it disorients them as a result of it interferes with their capability to navigate utilizing the Earth’s magnetic area. Final 12 months the town handed a regulation that requires all city-owned and managed buildings to modify their lights off at evening throughout migration. An expanded invoice, which might prolong the requirement to privately owned industrial buildings all 12 months, is in committee within the council. Although exemptions can be allowed for icons such because the Empire State and the Chrysler Constructing, the change would nonetheless remodel the world’s most well-known skyline.

Jessica Wilson of NYC Audubon says that might be a great factor for birds, power consumption and other people. New York is on monitor to develop into probably the most bird-friendly massive metropolis in America. If the invoice passes, “it could be a mannequin for the complete nation”. 

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