11 September 2001
Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey
November 8, 2000
PORT AUTHORITY TAKES
STEPS TO PROTECT MIGRATORY BIRDS AROUND WORLD TRADE CENTER
Floodlights on the roof of 1 World Trade Center will be turned off at night, and other non-essential lights will be dimmed to protect migratory birds from becoming disoriented and crashing into the side of the 110-story skyscrapers.
Skyscrapers present a twin hazard to migrating birds: light and glass. After circling an illuminated building for hours, the birds land on shrubs and trees in planters on the Austin J. Tobin Plaza at the base of the World Trade Center. Trapped inside the glass-and-steel maze of the trade center complex, the birds are vulnerable to collisions with low-level windows. In general, windows reflect the surrounding environment, showing a tree inside the building or paired with another outdoor tree to create an open sight line.
At the recommendation of the New York City Audubon Society, the Port Authority this month has taken several measures to protect migratory birds. They are:
� Floodlights that illuminate the TV masts on the roof of 1 World Trade Center have been turned off at night. The floodlights not only attract birds to the area, but they also are likely to cause many injuries as disoriented birds circle the lit-up communications tower.
� Tenants in the World Trade Center were asked to turn off non-essential lights at night or to close their blinds whenever possible.
� Netting was installed in front of ground-floor windows on the east side of 2 World Trade Center. This wall - located directly across from a planter offering the best habitat within the complex - has been identified as being particularly deadly to birds.
"The Port Authority has consistently worked to be good stewards of the environment, and this initiative is part of that commitment," said Alan Reiss, Director of the World Trade Center. "Helping the Audubon Society try to protect the lives of these birds is the right thing to do. We will continue to work closely with the group in search of other steps we can take to help them achieve their goals."
"Collisions with glass is a major bird conservation issue that's received little attention to date," said Rebekah Creshkoff, a volunteer with the New York City Audubon Society. "Populations of many bird species are in serious decline due to human activity, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, cats, pesticide poisoning and collisions with cars as well as with glass. Steps to reduce the toll on any front are welcome and could significantly help to stem the tide."
Nobody knows exactly how many night migratory birds are disoriented by lit-up skyscrapers, or collide with skyscrapers. But New York City Audubon Society volunteers have discovered nearly 500 dead and injured birds outside the World Trade Center and neighboring skyscrapers since September 5.
Dr. Daniel Klem, an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., has studied the problem for two decades. His conservative estimate: Glass kills at least 100 million to a billion birds in the United States each year.
For background information on glass and other threats to birds, visit www.flap.org, www.towerkill.com or www.abcbirds.org.