2006-10-27 / Community

Migrating Birds Face Hazards Here

By Brian Magoolaghan


Mario Marino holds one of several dead birds he found last week around his home at Arverne by the Sea. Mario Marino holds one of several dead birds he found last week around his home at Arverne by the Sea. Mario Marino and his wife, Donna Schirripa, made an unusual discovery last week at their new Arverne by the Sea home: a handful of small dead birds scattered around their yard.

The couple wanted to find out what was responsible for the deaths of five or six birds in such a concentrated area and was worried that there might also be a wildlife or public health issue (city health officials test dead birds for the deadly West Nile Virus), so Schirripa dialed 311 to report their find to the city.

After being bounced around to several city agencies, Schirripa spoke with a representative at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A field investigator was dispatched to collect the birds, which Marino gathered and sealed in individual plastic bags. The verdict: head trauma caused by the accidental collision with windows on illuminated manmade structures, homes in this case, the couple said.

Experts say that tens of thousands of migrating birds are killed each spring and fall along the north-south flyways in the United States after collisions with lit structures. Many birds also die of exhaustion after flying around manmade light sources. The problem has prompted building managers in several U.S. cities, including New York, to reduce artificial light at night during migration seasons.

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