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.

Posts about Bird conservation

Bought your duck stamp yet?

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: August 16, 2014 - 10:49 AM

THE stadium-glass decision-makers

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: August 2, 2014 - 10:10 AM

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

Telephone: 612-335-3316; e-mail: Michele Kelm-Helgen

Ted Mondale, CEO/Executive Director

Telephone: 612-335-3314; e-mail: Ted Mondale

Steve Maki, P.E., Senior Stadium Director

Telephone: 612-335-3313; e-mail: steve.maki@msfa.com

Mary Fox-Stroman, CPA, Director of Finance

Telephone 612-335-3311; e-mail: mary.fox-stroman@msfa.com

Bobbi Ellenberg, Director of Business Operations

Telephone:  612-335-3318; e-mail: bobbi.ellenberg@msfa.com

Jennifer Hathaway, Director of Communications

Telephone:  612-335-3308; e-mail: jenn.hathaway@msfa.com

Alex Tittle, Equity Director

Telephone: 612-335-3312; e-mail: alex.tittle@msfa.com

Donovan Jones, Equity Specialist

Telephone: 612-335-3366; e-mail: donovan.jones@msfa.com

Tiffany Orth, Project Coordinator for the MSFA Board

Telephone: 612-335-3316; e-mail: tiffany.orth@msfa.com

Amy Quaintance, Senior Executive Assistant

Telephone: 612-335-3314; e-mail: amy.quaintance@msfa.com

Leo Pidde, Technical Services Manager

Telephone: 612-335-3327; e-mail: leo.pidde@msfa.com



A Vikings' stadium-glass solution

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: July 31, 2014 - 8:10 PM

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.

New Vikings stadium -- bird-killing zone

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: July 31, 2014 - 11:24 AM

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 info@gardenhomesmanagement.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


Telephone: 651-201-3400
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: 
Audubon Minnesota
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.

Birding Community E-bulletin

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: July 21, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Birding Community E-bulletin for July 2014. Always interesting, the bulletin contains short takes on news of birds and bird conservation, including a summary of rare birds seen in North America during the previous month. The archive contains issues from 2004 to the present.



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