Birds have died flying into the 200,000 square feet of glass at U.S. Bank Stadium, our football castle. More birds will die. There will be stories, and U.S. Bank will be in the first sentence every time, up there with the dead birds. Bad public relations. The bank should consider being part of the solution to the carnage.
The Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis report on that U.S. Bank Stadium problem in downtown Minneapolis has been published. Read it at http://audubonchapterofminneapolis.org/2017/02/bird-mortality-report-at-u-s-bank-stadium/
When the push was on to convince the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA), the Viking owners or managers or someone of authority that birds were going to fly into the stadium glass and die, when that was at its peak, my comments were whispers. Mostly, I was pessimistic about anybody finding the money necessary to make the stadium less deadly to birds.
I doubt if the Wilf family, team owners, ever thought that spending money on birds should even be discussed. And some of the commission members and its chairperson were too busy giving away free game tickets and food to hear the truth spoken by the birders.
The Audubon committee monitored the stadium grounds for dead or injured birds during last fall's migration season. Birds found were collected, dead or injured. Many places on or around the stadium were and are not accessible because of architecture. Birds there, and that seems a safe assumption, could not be counted. Stadium maintenance staff and security guards picked up dead birds. Passersby did. Some birds were eaten by scavangers. Maybe the Wilfs, on their way to the games, picked up dead birds. Who knows. None of those birds could be accurately accounted for.
"If the fall 2016 migration season's total of 60 documented avian deaths were to remain consistent in the future during spring and fall migrations, approximately 360 birds would be killed by U.S. Bank Stadium in a three-year period. And this number significantly underestimates true mortality at the stadium complex, because it does not include birds removed by maintenance staff, security guards, and scavengers," the report states.
Upshot — many birds killed, many unaccounted for.
Of the birds found, dead or injured, 21 species were represented, 33 percent of those White-throated Sparrows, 36 percent members of the warbler family.
In six years of monitoring birds killed by flying into other downtown buildings, the highest mortality recorded for a single building averaged 42 dead birds per migration period.
Do these numbers look particularly large? No, actually, not until you include the dead birds that could not be found, or the injured birds that flew off to die somewhere else. The report quotes a study led by the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. It revealed that only 7 percent of collision victims were killed immediately. That really changes the math.
The stadium is way ahead in the dead bird count, a clear winner. Spring migration is about to start. Expect bigger numbers.
The report has been given to the MSFA. It offers possible solutions. The National Audubon Society has contracted with the MSFA and the Vikings to monitor the stadium from this year to next, another study.
The current report was prepared under leadership from the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds, and Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary. These folks deserve thanks and encouragement.
The stadium, with 200,000 square feet of reflective glass, is a monster. Really, it is so disproportional to downtown Minneapolis. It looks strange. It should not be there. It belongs in Eagan, on the grounds were the team is building its new headquarters and practice facility. We are stuck with it, however, so let's pray that money is provided to fix this.