Dead Birds
About 400 migratory birds caught in a storm died in Galveston, Texas, after flying into a skyscraper. Reuters

Nearly 400 birds migrating north from Central and South America died in one night earlier this month after slamming into the American National Insurance Co. skyscraper in Galveston, Texas, Houston Audubon reported. The birds had gotten got caught up in a storm.

The building sits on Galveston island, just off mainland Texas in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles south of Houston. The large white building is 23 stories tall, the Washington Post reported, and the exterior of the building is usually lit by large floodlights.

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Josh Henderson, the supervisor of animal services for the Galveston Police Department, was called when the birds were found. He collected the carcasses and started counting them — 395 dead, three alive, the Post reported. Among those birds were Nashville warblers, yellow warblers and ovenbirds. Henderson shipped them to Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University.

Following the incident, American National turned off the floodlights that usually illuminate the building at night, Houston Audubon said. Instead of bright floodlights on the entire exterior of the building, only green lights around the top of it are lit for air travel safety reasons. The vice president and chief human resources officer of American National told Houston Audubon, an avian conservation organization, that to the company's knowledge, in the 45 years the building has been there, nothing like this ever has happened.

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The American Bird Conservancy estimates as many as 1 billion birds die due to collisions with glass in the United States each year. This occurs because bids cannot see clear or reflective glass, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service notes. Birds see the reflection of landscapes, the sky or inside vegetation in the glass and fly right into it. The majority of these deaths occur against one- to three-story buildings, and less than 1 percent is due to high rises.

Additionally, about 6.5 million migratory birds die annually from flying into communications towers while the estimate for bird and wind turbine collisions sits at 33,000-573,000 per year. Far more birds are killed annually due to road vehicles, an estimated 89 million-340 million in the U.S.

Those looking to protect birds from such fates can add certain products to their windows to help make them less attractive to birds. Awnings, shutters and even just having outside screens can help limit the number of bird collisions with buildings. Special tape placed to make stripes or patterns also can help birds identify glass and avoid flying into it.