Migrating Birds Totally Confused by 9/11 Tribute Lights
|Copyright 2010 John de Guzman via Animal Planet|
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On 9/11 this year, Rowden stayed at Ground Zero for 12 hours to alert the Municipal Art Society as to when it was time to momentarily pull the plug on the light display so the birds could fly onward. Organizers had to flip the switch five times,
|Photo by Susan Houston|
"We didn't know it was going to be so intense," Rowden says. "I believe that we were able to get them out of there without really compromising them." If the lights stayed on continuously, the birds would have been at risk of depleting fat stores for migration. "If we could help anything on that day, I think we would all try to," Rowden says.
This year was the worst he had seen in terms of the tribute interfering with migration because of a "confluence of circumstances," Rowden says. There was no moon to guide the birds Saturday night, and the winds had been unfavorable for migration at the beginning of the week, so more birds than usual mobilized at once on 9/11 and flew toward the bright lights.
The New York City Audubon's Lights Out New York initiative, requesting that skyscrapers turn off their lights after midnight to avoid interference with migration, also received a lot of attention this year.
Suddenly, we're all suckers for urban wildlife. Remember Sticky and the assassination of the Prospect Park geese? RIP. "That resonates with people that these birds that were part of the landscape of our city were exterminated. I think there is a connection in peoples' minds," Rowden says. "I think we need to take better care of the avian residents of our city."
Let's call it "Sticky's Revolution."