Birds in danger: How one group is working to change Chicago's landscape

Chicago is officially the most dangerous city in America for birds.

A new study out of Cornell says more migrating birds die in Chicago than anywhere else in the country.

But on Wednesday, a group will make the case to City Council to require all new buildings to be bird-friendly, saving thousands of lives every year.

The birds are dying as a result of Chicago’s skyscrapers and their crystal-clear windows.

Annette Prince of “Chicago Bird Collision Monitors” says her team finds thousands of birds in and around the Loop every year.

“They are not familiar with buildings and glass, they don't understand how reflections are deceptive,” she said.

On just one morning, Prince and her team found nine injured and nine dead birds. But they’ve also found hundreds in a single day before.

The injured ones are sent off to Willowbrook Wildlife Center for recovery. Those that don’t make it, go to the Field Museum for research and education.

One of the birds found Monday morning was a Long-eared Owl who got himself stuck on the 49th floor of “Park Monroe.”

“It kept banging itself up against the glass,” Prince said.

But a new law introduced by Alderman Brian Hopkins aims to reduce the dangers these birds face.

“There's a lot we can do proactively to diminish the number of migratory birds that get killed as they fly through Chicago,” Hopkins said.

It's called “The Bird Friendly Design Ordinance.” The goal is to get architects and building developers to think outside the box to save birds.

“There are certain techniques that they can implement as they design the building to make it less likely that it will be a fatal attractor to birds,” Hopkins said.

Techniques such as etching or frosting glass for the first three stories of a building.

“No major city has an ordinance of this scope,” Prince said. “The fact that these birds don't have to die, and they die terrible deaths, they have head trauma, they have internal bleeding.”

“If we can avoid that, why wouldn't we do that?” she added.

An official vote on the ordinance is expected in May or June, and the ordinance would apply to all new construction starting next year.