As predicted, Vikings stadium is killing field for birds

A ruby-throated hummingbird, found at the west wall of U.S. Bank Stadium in August. Photo via Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis

It’s not as if someone didn’t tell you that the new Vikings stadium would be a bird killer. Let’s be honest: People didn’t care if it would.

City Pages this week looked at the results of an 11-week study by three groups: the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds, and Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

They had warned that if you build something with 200,000 square feet of reflective glass, birds would smash into it. Why? Because they know more about birds than the political appointees who said, “so what?”

• Related: Bird advocates say U.S. Bank stadium is ‘most dangerous building’

In response to the study, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings have contracted with Audubon to do another study that will be available in two years.

“Birds are dying because of the glass on the stadium,” Ann Laughlin, of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, tells City Pages. “The only thing that a new study does is buy the Vikings time.”

The building drew the ridicule of Deadspin today.

There are relatively simple things the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority could do to severely reduce the mortality rates, including installing glass with a visible patten. That’s what they did at New York’s Javits Center, and immediately cut bird deaths by 90 percent.

Conservation groups, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, were calling for the stadium to be made bird-safe for years before it opened (in line with Minnesota Department of Commerce guidelines, which would appear to require it for all publicly financed structures like), but the MSFA declined to take any steps. There’s no indication they intend to do anything about it even now. Enjoy your bird mass grave, Vikings fans.

Says the report:

As predicted, many birds are being killed and injured by collisions with glass at U.S. Bank Stadium. During the 2016 fall migration, an informal survey at the stadium complex documented 60 dead birds.

From even limited observation frequency, this level of migratory bird mortality exceeds that of the worst bird-killing building documented in the three-year Zink and Eckles study and will establish U.S. Bank Stadium as the top bird-killing building in the Twin Cities.

This count underestimates true mortality because it does not include birds disposed of by stadium employees, birds killed in inaccessible areas of the stadium, birds removed by scavengers and the public, and injured birds that flew off and died away from the stadium complex.

A true count of mortality would also include bird deaths throughout the year, since collisions occur year-round, not just during migration.

The number of bird deaths will likely also increase as the trees and shrubs around the stadium mature and the larger biomass increases the amount and scale of reflected vegetation. The MSFA should take immediate action to protect migrating birds from the unnecessary and preventable injuries and deaths documented in this study. Bird-safe treatments should be applied immediately to the glass on all sides of the stadium in order to protect birds.

Rather than wait for future studies to document thousands of preventable bird deaths and injuries, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the MSFA has a responsibility to act based on current evidence of many bird injuries and fatalities.