It's a New Day

August 2020

Vol. 48, No. 4

Revisiting Bird-Window Collisions in Boston: The First Year of the Avian Collision Team (ACT)

William Freedberg

83 of the 119 casualties from the spring 2019 season of ACT. Photograph courtesy of the author.

Migratory bird numbers in Massachusetts are not what they used to be. Rarer, now, are days with 20 warbler species at Mount Auburn Cemetery, thousands-strong shorebird flocks in Chatham, and 200 dead birds gathered at the base of a single building.

Veteran birders talk fondly of the former two cases, but fewer discuss the bygone days of finding dozens or hundreds of window-struck birds in a morning. But this phenomenon did not go entirely undocumented. In 1974, Bird Observer published Henry Wiggin's article, "Birding at the Prudential Center," with the focus on unexpected patterns in window-collision observations (Wiggin 1974). At the Prudential Center in Boston (the Pru), which was then his office, Wiggin reported several avian mortality events with over 200 casualties and a personal record-setting day on May 4, 1968, with over 700 deceased migrants.

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