Vikings Stadium: Reflector of Light, Murderer of Birds

The Minnesota Vikings' new football stadium is a beautiful example of contemporary architecture ... unless you are a bird

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The Minnesota Vikings Stadium
The Minnesota Vikings Stadium / © Joe Robbins - Getty Images
The Minnesota Vikings Stadium
The Minnesota Vikings Stadium / © Joe Robbins – Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadium, with its sharply tapering facade, glowing plastic roof, humongous hinged doors, and glimmering glass walls, is a beautiful example of contemporary architecture—a spectacular testament to the incredible things humans can create with new techniques and materials. Unfortunately, if you’re a bird, it’s a death trap.

In fact, the shiny new stadium might be the most lethal bird-killer in the Twin Cities area, according to a new report from the Audubon Society. Last year, during the fall migration period between August and November, members of the Society’s local chapter, the Roberts Bird Sanctuary, and Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds photographed 74 birds that were either killed (60) or stunned (14) after colliding with the stadium’s glass windows. The highest death rate previously recorded for a Minneapolis building was 42 birds per migration period. As the study authors note, their numbers underestimate the stadium’s actually death tally; volunteers did not survey the building every day, and their recordkeeping didn’t account for birds removed by maintenance, security, or scavengers.

A lot of people saw this coming. The stadium sits within the Mississippi Flyway, a heavily trafficked bird migration route stretching from Canada to South America. It contains more than 200,000 square feet of reflective glass, which birds have trouble distinguishing from actual sky. […]

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