Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Double-crested Cormorants are in the news again, for the usual reason. This time the federal government wants to kill 16,000 of this native bird species because of complaints from fishermen in the estuary of the Columbia River on the Oregon coast. When fishing slows, cormorants beware! We've had two bouts of that in Minnesota in recent years, several years ago in Leech Lake, two years ago on Lake Waconia. One study after another confirms that cormorants are not the cause of diminishing fish resources regardless of where or what species. A University of Minnesota biologist, Linda Wires, has written a book about this problem: "Double-crested Cormorant -- Plight of a Feathered Pariah." It's been published by Yale University Press. An on-line review said, "...it should infuriate everyone who cares about the environment, and the importance of factual information over absurb myth." Amen.
Read the book, and be ready to go to bat for this bird when next it comes under the gun here. It's just a matter of time.
In the effort to change the type of glass intended for use in the new Vikings stadium, an important group of people is perhaps being overlooked. The Metropolitan Sports Facility Authority was established with the specific purpose of guiding construction to completion. It would make the decision to change glass to bird-friendly. That became obvious in reading this morning's StarTribune story about the Minneapolis City Council resolution regarding the glass. The Vikings certainly could come forth check in hand. But the check would be given to the MSFA. It's members should hear from those of us who believe the stadium glass as planned for installation fairly soon is bad for birds. Here is contact information.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, Chair
Ted Mondale, CEO/Executive Director
Steve Maki, P.E., Senior Stadium Director
Mary Fox-Stroman, CPA, Director of Finance
Bobbi Ellenberg, Director of Business Operations
Jennifer Hathaway, Director of Communications
Alex Tittle, Equity Director
Donovan Jones, Equity Specialist
Tiffany Orth, Project Coordinator for the MSFA Board
Amy Quaintance, Senior Executive Assistant
Leo Pidde, Technical Services Manager
The football stadium under construction for the Minnesota Vikings, the stadium with the bird-deadly glass, will have 116 private suites. Surely, each suite will have its own bathroom.
What will each bathroom cost? I estimate $10,000 each, minimum, with nice tile and executive-class fixtures, cushioned seats maybe.
OK, multiply that times 116 and you have $1.16 million dollars, almost EXACTLY the cost of glass that is bird-friendly, glass that would save thousands and thousands of bird lives in years to come.
Let the suite owners and their guests use the public bathrooms like the rest of us. Hey, I’d even let them go to the head of the line.
There are two ways birds die when they collide with glass. They break their necks, and die sooner. Or, the suffer concussions, and, very often, die later, after flying away. I’ll bet the Minnesota Vikings football team doesn’t know about the concussion part.
It does appear as of Thursday morning, however, that even if they did it would make little difference. The team is adamant about not spending some of our money on stadium glass that would make collisions by birds less likely.
You’d think that the Vikings, of all people in town, would understand concussions.
And you’d wish that the team had more regard for our money. Even after we gave the Vikings hundreds of millions of dollars for their fancy new home it is, after all, our money.
The stadium is designed to feature vast panels of glass. It is to be a glass palace. It is to be, so far, a glass killing zone for migrant birds.
The paper this morning indicates that some members of the Minneapolis City Council are aware of the problem, and understand the use of the bird-safe glass. It could be substituted for regular reflective at the cost of about a million extra dollars. Lots of money, certainly, but if you’ve been following stadium construction news the Vikings have yet to blink on any extra cost, whatever it might be.
Why do birds collide with window or door glass? Because it is invisible to them. It reflects the background, appearing to be nothing but the habitat through which they always fly, unharmed. There is glass available that contains markings visible to birds but not to you and me. The markings warn birds away. This glass is in use throughout the country; it’s not some yet-to-be-tried idea.
National Audubon, through Audubon Minnesota, is collecting petition signatures from people who support use of bird-safe glass. The last count I saw was 45,000 signees, with 65,000 the initial goal. That would be one signature for each seat in the stadium. The American Bird Conservancy, based in Washington, D.C., has joined the effort to change the glass. This is becoming an issue with a national profile.
You’d think both the team and the National Football League would find this embarrassing. We’ve learned, though, haven’t we, that it takes a lot to embarrass this team.
What can we do? Write or call the governor. Write the mayor of Minneapolis. Write your city council member if you live in Minneapolis. You can write your state legislator. You can write or call the Vikings. You can sign the petition. You can help broadcast the issue and need for support of bird-safe glass. Here is email contact information for some of these suggestions:
Zygi Wulf's office in New Jersey, telephone 203-348-2200
email to Zygi is email@example.com
Vikings office telephone is (952) 828-6500
Zygi Wilf Owner/Chairman
Mark Wilf Owner/President
Leonard Wilf Owner/Vice Chairman
Reggie Fowler Vikings Ownership Partner
Alan Landis Vikings Ownership Partner
David Mandelbaum Vikings Ownership Partner
Lester Bagley Vice President of Public Affairs/Stadium Development
Gov. Mark Dayton
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
It’s simple to contact the city by phone. Just dial 311.
Mayor Betsy Hodges can be reached at (612) 673-2100
Audubon Minnesota is active in this campaign:
1 Water Street West Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55107
To sign its petition go to
The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union has adopted this resolution:
"The Board of Directors of the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union, on behalf of
its members, requests that the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL make every
reasonable attempt to use construction materials that will minimize any
adverse effects on wildlife, as also recommended by Audubon Minnesota."
Do something to help. Call somebody. Write somebody. Call and write everybody. If we make enough noise we can do this. I favor phone calls, hundreds and hundreds of phone calls to the governor and the team. We need to play tough defense on this one.
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