I wonder if the construction of a building would be affected by the
EPBC Act if it were within 10 kilometres of spot where an orange
bellied parrot has ever been spotted ...
New hospital for birds who fly into buildings
May 04 2006 at 10:04AM
By Don Babwin
Chicago - It's unclear where the American woodcock was heading or where
its trip began. About the only thing that is known is that when the
bird got to Chicago, it didn't spot the skyscraper until it was too
Luckily for the woodcock, its mistake took place in a city that's home
to a new bird hospital where travellers can be treated until they're
strong enough to complete their journeys.
"There is a desperate need to get birds assistance as quickly as
possible near the areas where they are being found," said Annette
Prince, director of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, which rescues
winged crash victims before they're stepped on, run over or pounced on
by dogs and cats.
Since migratory season began last month, volunteers have been taking
the birds for treatment to near-empty rooms in the terminal of the
now-shuttered lakefront airport Meigs Field.
Millions of birds migrate through Chicago each year and most make it
through without so much as a ruffled feather. But some smack into
buildings because they're distracted and confused by the lights of the
high-rises in this third-largest US city, don't see the glass or
mistake the reflection off windows for the sky.
Chicago is among a handful of cities in North America where steps are
being taken to save the birds. Along with the unnamed bird hospital,
the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors has a "Lights Out" programme in
which high-rises turn off their lights at night during the migratory
"I use Chicago all the time as an example of a place where people are
interested in doing something," said Daniel Klem Jr, an ornithologist
at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsyvania.
Bird enthusiasts say the hospital will allow them to save more than the
847 birds rescued during the last migration season because Prince's
group will no longer have to drive at least an hour to a similar
facility in suburban Barrington - a trip that some birds don't survive.
"Many birds (that hit buildings) have brain swelling, and you have to
get them treatment, administer drugs quicker," said Dawn Keller, who
founded the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington in 2003.
Volunteers also will have more time to pick up the birds since they are
not driving to the suburban facility. Instead, they can drop the birds
off at the new hospital just beyond Soldier Field and be back downtown
within minutes to look for more.
Keller hopes that with donations, the hospital will someday have a
flight chamber to test birds before their release, more equipment and
supplies, as well as another licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The city
lets her use the space free of charge.
Prince's volunteers start collecting birds around 6am on sidewalks in
the Loop, the city's business district. Most are songbirds such as
thrushes, warblers and woodpeckers.
Typically, the volunteers find a half dozen to 20 birds a morning
during migratory seasons.
"Last fall we had winds from the south and then on Columbus day weekend
we got a northerly wind and all those birds that had been waiting (for
the wind to shift) came and over the weekend we had 400 rescues and
over 500 dead birds," Prince said.
At the hospital, Keller checks out the birds and injects them with an
anti-inflammatory medicine and fluids to control shock and brain
swelling. While some have broken wings, the majority have some kind of
head, beak or eye injury.
Some birds are little more than dazed; they can be treated, taken to a
field along Lake Michigan and released so they can continue their trip.
Even before examining it, Keller suspects the woodcock suffered some
head or eye damage when its eight centimetre beak slammed into the
Sure enough, one of the bird's eyes is cloudy, suggesting a torn
cornea. It's not going anywhere this migrating season.
"My guess is the bird will be with us for at least two months," she
said, adding that the bird may never recover enough to be released. In
that case, she'd place the bird in a zoo or nature centre.
"He may not be releasable," she said. "But he's not going to die." -
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