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.
This is an example of fritted glass as used in windows at the downtown branch of the Minneapolis Public Library. The pane on the right contains the elements which make the glass visible, and/or the interior of the building less visible. Light does pass through this glass. The pane on the left is normal window glass, showing the reflection common in certain situations. Birders have requested the Minnesota Vikings to use fritted glass in the stadium under construction in an effort to lessen collisions by birds with exterior stadium glass, some 200,000 square feet of it. The photo is of the only fritted glass I could locate locally, with modest effort. I don't know the degree to which this example contains the fritting material -- high degree, medium, or low. It does, however, show how fritting can appear. It certainly shows why birds would be less likely to collide with the pane on the right versus the pane on the left, and, if vision through the glass is desired, it shows why fritting, at least to this extent, might not be chosen.
The decision to use ordinary glass in the Minnesota Vikings new stadium was about more than money. Money might have been reason number three, particularly at this moment.
I visited by phone this afternoon (Friday) with Jennifer Hathaway, director of communications for the Metropolitan Sports Facility Authority (MSFA), and authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. The MSFA is the agency guiding construction.
The design of the stadium, I was told, was specific in use of glass that allowed people inside to see outside and people outside to see inside. This will be an enclosed stadium with as much open-air ambiance as can be provided.
Bird-safe (fritted) glass would not accommodate that design.
In addition, manufacture of the glass takes five months, Ms. Kelm-Helgen said. Installation of the glass is scheduled to begin in December.
September, October, November ….
The construction schedule does not allow for a two-month delay.
Cost of the bird-friendly glass, given in earlier stories as $1.1 million, actually would be closer to $1.4 million, according to Ms. Kelm-Helgen.
She pointed out that the MSFA has agreed to Audubon Minnesota requests for particular kinds of stadium lighting. Audubon presented the MSFA with a list of operational and design elements that would add a lighting-based bird-safe dimension to the stadium.
Fritted glass appears to never have been an option.
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
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