As predicted, Vikings stadium is killing field for birds

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.

  • L. Foonimin

    If the Wilfs had no issues using up serial child abuser AP what makes anyone think they would even consider the effects of the Ziggy Dome on a few migratory birds with anything more than a shrug of corporate shoulders.

    • Sam M

      The fault doesn’t lie solely with the Wilfs. Obviously if they wanted to they can make a change but some of those politicians deserve some criticism as well.

      • L. Foonimin


  • So 60 dead birds, and an assumption that there are more dead birds = “killing field.” ok.

    • Rob

      What’s your threshold, DeRusha? Do they have to be stacked three deep around the whole perimeter of the stadium to satisfy your criteria of a killing field?

      • I guess an average of 3 per day would add up to nearly 1100 dead birds in a year. That would be bad. The argument was that the stadium was worse than a skyscraper, worse than another building because of it’s location along the migration route. Any construction anywhere with windows is going to lead to the deaths of some birds. The argument was that this was worse. Is it worse? I don’t know. I don’t get an answer from what I’ve read in this story.

        • Rob

          Give it another read.

        • Mike

          The design of the stadium is obviously very unlike the design of a typical downtown building, as it was created to give the illusion of a large open space. Be as obtuse as you like, but don’t pretend that it’s profound.

          • True, which makes it more challenging to compare this to other buildings. Saying it’s the most deadly building… well, it’s giant. So I guess I’d expect that.

            I wish all the parties were just more honest about what’s happening: The stadium people didn’t like the look of the bird-resistant glass, that’s why they don’t have it. The cost is nothing relative to the total cost of the building. They could afford it. They didn’t want to. Not because they hate birds, because they were going for a certain look.

            The bird people always said it was going to be a death trap for birds, and now they’ve produced evidence of 60 dead birds proving their belief that it is a killing field. Certainly it is having an impact on birds – how profound of an impact is what I’m trying to get a better handle on.

          • >>Certainly it is having an impact on birds <<

            Pun intended?

            /I apologize for my last comment directed at you sir.

        • Noelle

          I would guess it’s far more than just 3 per day, since there are many birds that strike the glass, manage to fly away and either die later or are killed by predators because they are injured.

          Wilf could have coughed up the extra to add the bird overlays, which were not that expensive in the scheme of things.

          • Noelle

            The skyways are actually quite bad in Minneapolis for bird deaths as well. They see through the glass to the other side, and assume they can fly straight through.

            I saw three dead birds during the migration last fall within HALF A BLOCK in downtown Minneapolis off 5th and Nicollet. I couldn’t bring myself to inspect around the perimeter of the stadium since I know the counts would have been far higher.

      • Gary F

        Jason has a crock pot at home right now full of birds that hit the WCCO building. If you cook them slow, like a pheasant, they taste pretty good, so Jason says.

  • Rob

    Lots of people care about the new stadium’s killing of birds. But the people who care had no power to do anything about it. Life is cheap; the lives of birds far cheaper.

  • Mike

    It was pretty clear during the so-called stadium debate that nothing was going to stop Wilf from getting exactly what he wanted. Remember when a majority of the state legislature was against the deal, then Zygi came to town and something changed really fast? Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall too many local reporters digging into campaign contributions and the like from His Highness.

    The utter indifference to any concerns but the enrichment of a few is typical of professional sports, and for that matter the politicians who enable them. What I can at least appreciate about the Vikings deal is the way it demonstrated how thoroughly corrupt both major parties are. We don’t usually get that type of clarity in politics.

    • jon

      Zigi flew into MSP, and flew out to LAX (or more his plane was photographed at LAX at some point) and everyone changed their mind… I don’t know if it was financial incentives or motivation by the threat of losing a team… but the tune changed with minor changes to the proposed public funding.

      • Mike

        OK, but as I remember there was no real welcome mat for him in LA; no deal had been put together there. So that trip was just theater for the flyover country rubes (us).

        • jon


          We were played… we were played while they gave us numbers that contradicted the narrative. They told us how much money they were making because MN is filled with such great fans, and then told us they’d give up that money to go to a less lucrative market in LA…

          But using numbers confuse people is nothing new…

          Along the lines of the “they should teach civics in schools!” demands that are so common now, I’m going to start requesting that we teach math in schools (both are still taught in schools in reality, but reality seems to have little place in reality any more.)

          • Mike

            At a higher level, I’d say we need to teach skepticism in schools, but of course that would never fly. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue if masses of people starting questioning nationalism and religion!

          • jon

            Critical thinking is supposed to be a driving goal behind common core, but it probably doesn’t really matter… we currently teach algebra in schools, we have for decades, and most people can’t manage to do that by the time they hit adulthood.

            We teach geography in school but some 20% of people can’t find Mexico on an unlabeled map (only know they want a wall.)

            Elementary schools aren’t the answer, at least in reality…

          • >> I’d say we need to teach skepticism in schools, but of course that would never fly.<<

            Pun intended?

      • Not LAX. San Diego

        • jon

          I’ll defer to what I assume is your greater knowledge on the situation…

          I only remember for certain that it was a market in CA.

  • Gary F

    If it would just kill those messy pigeons and Canada geese, and leave the rest alone, then it would be worth it.

  • Jack

    Think anything will change with Mondale and Kelm-Helgen gone?

    • Gary F

      Ted could get a job carrying a grain shovel and scooping up dead birds.

  • Is there anything that could be done to steer birds away from the existing glass? Overlays?

    • Ben Chorn

      The one thing buildings can do is turn their lights off at night:

    • jon

      “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.”

  • SysAdmin

    How does the kill rate compare to a wind farm or the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility?

  • Glsai

    I wish I had a dashcam as I wasn’t going to reach for my phone camera, but the weekend before last (or the one before) I was driving up Hiawatha towards the stadium and the amount of light reflected off the stadium was dangerous. It was like staring into the sun, even with sunglasses it was overwhelmingly bright and a hazard to drivers.

    • Kassie

      The Weisman is like that too.

      Edit: Or used to be. I haven’t driven across the Washington Ave Bridge in years. Can you still drive across it?

      • Jerry

        You can, it just dumps you off on east river road.

  • Anna

    I am not a pro football fan. I think it’s utterly ridiculous to pay grown men millions of dollars to play football but then America is no better than Europe with its obsession with rugby and soccer.

    Let’s hope CTE will eventually put the lost boys out of business as more parents realize the dangers of contact sports like football and boxing. There are other team sports that build character besides football.

    Why any man with half a brain would want to subject himself to the real possibility of crippling injuries is beyond me. No amount of money can be worth a lifetime of pain and disability and eventual mental incapacity.

    There is a golden opportunity to do something about the migratory bird problem with the MSFA losing its top dogs.

    Put pressure on the successors to do something about the reflective glass. We’ve seen what organized protests can do in the last three months.

    Minnesota is known for its beauty and variety of wildlife. Surely that is worth the money to coat the glass and protect wildlife as well as drivers who can’t see because of the blinding reflection caused by sunlight.

    • Bob Sinclair

      Maybe the MFSA could fund a study to see if helmets on the birds would prevent these deaths (or at least concussions)

    • jon

      “Why any man with half a brain would want to subject himself to the real possibility of crippling injuries is beyond me. No amount of money can be worth a lifetime of pain and disability and eventual mental incapacity.”

      Because historically that is the only thing we’ve done for money.

      My grandfather was a garbage man… back before the automated lifter style cans were implemented (at least on his routes) he lifted cans, as he retired the years of wear and tear on his body showed.

      My father was a mechanic, he broke his back fixing tractor trailers. (a surgery in the early 90’s fixed him up, but he still doesn’t bend like he used too… he kept turning wrenches for another ~10 years after that.)

      My self, I work in IT… I sit and stare at a screen all day… My father pushed me and my siblings to get paid to think instead of smash our bodies for money…
      But today we know how bad just sitting and staring at a screen all day is too…

      • TigerKim

        But you can get up and stand or walk around on breaks, decreasing the on the job effects and after work & on weekends be active. Not even a close comparison to football damage. I used my body as a tool when I was a young RN, then had desk jobs later. I stood at my computer, went for walks on breaks and lunch. I HATE the NFL for the information they hid from players and the public. Sports injury costs are hidden every year, while FAT PEOPLE get blamed and hated for rising health care premiums in insurance. This country is screwed up way more than we want to admit, and NO ONE, seems to want to connect the dots any time soon.

  • Mike Worcester

    I tried to find this and maybe was not looking in the correct spot, but here is a question — during the lead up to the passage of the bill, the concerns about potential bird kills was discussed, yes? And nothing was passed to require any sort of counter-measures? Can we say that the topic was vetted thoroughly enough that it was considered settled? Or was it just pushed aside since it was viewed as a distraction?

    • Barton

      I don’t think it was discussed in the lead up, because (I recall, this could be wrong) that the original design had something different: a different type of glass/covering. But then that was chucked as a money saving device after the build started and that is when the discussion of the birds came in. There was plenty of time to correct this problem, in the scheme of things it would have been a small cost to correct (less than 1% of the total budge). Heck, I even remember some wanting to raise the money to do so by fundraising for it, and that was poo-poo’ed as well.

  • People, I can’t tell you how utterly tired I am of deleting comments because at the end of an otherwise informative comment, you have to add a “shot” against the person you’re responding to,as if it somehow ads a legitimacy to the more intelligent part of your comment.

    I am considering today to permanently close comments on NewsCut. I’m afraid that we have had it proven to us that we are not capable of the responsibility of commenting properly.

    • Jeff C.

      I’m sorry that maintaining the comments section is a burden. It is the second most valuable thing on the MPR website. First is the Newscut article itself. Thank you for your work. Maybe a “day without comments” will help people see how valuable it is. Please don’t shut it down permanently!

    • Anna

      It would be real loss to me if that were to happen but I understand your position.

      I don’t go on Facebook and other social media sites for the very reason you state in your post. I stopped reading the comments section on MSN as well because people seem to think they can say whatever they want without consequences all in the name of free speech.

      Some posters that “discover” NewsCut are some of the same people that post ugly comments on other less reputable websites including Breibart News. The ones that are private on Disqus seem to be some of the worst offenders.

      Social media has made us an impatient and intolerant society.

      Do what you feel is best, Bob.

    • Sorry Bob, I was going to come back and apologize for my comment, but it was already deleted. I admit it was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction on my part and I’ll try to be more mindful of my replies.

    • Jason Mock

      “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Pogo

      You have my apologies. Thank you for providing one of the only places online where the comments are worth reading, and more importantly, the effort you put into keeping it that way.

  • Rob

    Do what you gotta do, Bob C. IMHO, News Cut would be the poorer without comments, and would no longer be a “go to” site for me. BTW, I’m a sustainer, and have been an MPR member since 1988.

  • Postal Customer

    The birds dying was almost as predictable as abuse of the luxury suites by the 1% who we gave half a billion.

  • TigerKim

    If the football industry did not care about HUMAN players’ brain damage, why the hell would they care about birds?

  • lindblomeagles

    If I’m not mistaken, I think the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and NPR at one point in time had similar concerns regarding “shots fired” in the comment section. Maybe it’s time we all cleaned up the language and the sophistication of blogs in general. I know I could certainly do much more in that regard than anyone else.

  • Eva Yuvia Torres Hollyday

    Is there anything the collective public can do? Sign a petition? Anything? I hate seeing so much going on around us and feeling so powerless…

  • Bird Fighter

    We have offered to help solve the bird killing, but have been met with
    no response or lack of interested. I am completely convinced we could
    lesson the problem and possibly completely solve it. More studies is a
    complete waste of time and money, that is just a kick back to keep the
    animal rights groups happy. We see that over and over in other
    industries. Mark

  • There is no inalienable right to have a comment section.

  • Paul

    The team threatened to leave if we didn’t build them this stadium on the tax payers dime and still allow them to sell the naming rights to US Bank for team profit. The Vikings are the responsible party.

  • Jeff Rank

    We told them this would happen, and they just ignored us.

  • Fecal Warfare

    I think some activism could include feeding pigeons near there, something with lots of food coloring and other additives that makes their droppings caustic and staining. This will make it harder to clean the windows, which may allow more birds to see the windows. March you Pigeon Army, march!

    (By the way, Deadspin, the MN DNR is not a conservation group but a branch of the State government that manages the natural resources.)

    (Also, do this before the Atlanta Falcons play here. They will hit the glass.)

  • saintpauligirl

    I hate the stadium. It looks ugly on the outside, cost way too much for the public sector, don’t care for football, and now this truth about the birds is documented. I almost want to conspire to recreate an Alfred Hitchcock “The Birds” event to terrorize the people who won’t do anything to change this.