Flight risks: Cities reduce hazards for migrating birds

 

What do you picture when you think about migratory birds? Chattering snow geese dropping in a feathery cloud to the surface of a reservoir? Or a sunlit marsh filled with amorous sandhill cranes, twirling and prancing for prospective mates? What you probably don't envision is a metal-and-glass metropolis teeming with cars, people and pets. But myriad bird species have migratory routes that take them through heavily urbanized areas and into a tangle of hazards -- tall buildings, hungry cats and trash-filled waterways -- that kill millions of them every year.

In July, 10 U.S. cities got $70,000 each from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Urban Bird Treaty Program to help protect urban migratory birds. Four Western cities were among them. They will use the money to restore riparian habitat, and create green spaces for and reduce urban hazards to migratory birds.

Update 9/14/2011: Conservation Magazine has a neat piece on new research showing that bird deaths from collisions, such as running into towers and skyscrapers may not negatively impact overall population numbers within species.