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Geographica
Conservation

Fatal Attraction
Skyscrapers' lights, windows take a grim toll on birds

Thousands of birds didn't survive their migration through downtown Toronto last fall: Tall buildings stopped them cold. At night artificial light draws the birds; during daylight birds see reflections such as trees in windows and fly into them.

One remedy: "Turn off the lights at night," says Michael Mesure, executive director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP). More than a hundred skyscraper owners in the Toronto area have agreed to minimize their lights.

Still, Mesure says, "Fatal strikes during the day far exceed those at night." Nonreflective glass in tree-level windows would help, but FLAP has had little success in persuading building owners to take that step.

—John L. Eliot

Web Links

FLAP
www.flap.org/
Find out why migratory birds have diurnal and nocturnal collisions with buildings and what the Fatal Light Awareness Program is doing to make urban areas safer for birds passing through them.


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Bibliography

Berthold, Peter, and others. Bird Migration: A General Survey.  Oxford Ornithology Series, No 3. Oxford University Press, 2001.

Ehrlich, Paul R., and others. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon and Schuster Inc., 1998.




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