New York beam of light paying tribute to 9/11 victims could damage more than 160,000 birds


WASHINGTON D.C. [EE. UU.]: Each year, two rays of light are emitted in Lower Manhattan, in honor of those killed 18 years ago in one of the deadliest attacks on American soil. However, the researchers said that these light rays could cause birds to deviate from their normal migratory flights.


About 160,000 birds, attracted by the immense light, as well as insects and bats, surround these rays, seemingly unable to deviate, and deviate from the course, exposing them to a risk of exhaustion or disorientation, reported the New York Times.


The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coincides with the bird migration period in New York as autumn approaches. But convergence shares a raw reality of the situation that illustrates the dangers of human beings and animals sharing an urban ecosystem.

Birds, such as small songbirds such as Canada and yellow warblers, American redheads and nocturnal hawks, approach the shelves to hunt insects and peregrine falcons. When the number of trapped birds reaches about 1000, the lights go out for 20 minutes to allow the birds to disperse.

“It’s very solemn,” said Susan Elbin, an ornithologist and director of conservation and science at Audubon, a New York-based defense group based in the United States.

“The lights just appear in the dark and light up forever,” he said. “And when the sun rises the next morning, it will simply disappear.”

But according to radar studies conducted by Elbin and other scientists, breaks of 20 minutes are enough to allow birds to resume their migration.


Elbin added, “It is my duty to turn off the lights, and I prefer not to have them at all, because artificial light interferes with the birds’ natural signals to navigate.”

“The light attracts them and the glass overcomes them,” he said.

The light tribute attracts bird densities up to 150 times higher than normal, said the researcher.

In addition, another risk is that by flying in the light, birds could consume too much fat to store energy for migration, he said. “They just have enough to get where they need to go, the bigger you are, the more energy you need to fly, so it’s a good balance,” he said.

New York City Council will hold a committee meeting today on a bill requiring new or renovated buildings to use more bird-friendly glass. A similar campaign is underway in Chicago.