‘I Was Just in Shock’: Mass Bird Death Reported in New York City

Home Technology ‘I Was Just in Shock’: Mass Bird Death Reported in New York City
‘I Was Just in Shock’: Mass Bird Death Reported in New York City
Bird carcasses collected by Melissa Breyer on Tuesday morning.
Photo: Melissa Breyer

When Melissa Breyer packed up her bag on Monday night for her Tuesday morning volunteer shift with the Audubon Society, she decided to seriously prepare.

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Her task wasn’t to take part in one of the society’s bird counts—at least not a count of living birds. She was taking part in Project Safe Flight, an effort to track how many migratory birds die navigating New York. She loaded up her backpack with dozens of plastic bags to carry bird carcasses as well as paper bags outfitted to gingerly transport injured birds to caretakers—several times the number of bags that she normally brings with her on a shift. The forecasts were showing that a lot of migrating birds would be flying into the city on Monday night and Tuesday morning, and she wanted to be prepared.

“I packed my bag, like really packed it, packed it full, full, full, of all the supplies I could,” Breyer, the editorial director of the environmental publication Treehugger, said.

That foresight unfortunately turned out to be prescient. In the two-and-a-half hours Breyer spent surveying the World Trade Center complex in downtown Manhattan beginning at dawn, she spotted hundreds of dead birds. Tuesday was a particularly gruesome day for migratory birds in New York City in what is a dangerous season for winged creatures passing through the city en route to warmer locales for the winter along the Atlantic Flyway.

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