DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:
When Lea Miller took a job as the manager of a 30-story office building in Chicago, she knew she'd be supervising the cleaning and security staffs and keeping the 3,000 tenants happy. She didn't know she'd be responsible for the safety of thousands of birds. But soon after she took the job, Miller realized her building was a death trap for them.
Ms. LEA MILLER (Manager, 30-Story Office Building in Chicago): I would walk outside and they would be lying on the ground, either dead or severely injured. They had definitely hit the window because they do land close to the glass and they are simply lying there.
ELLIOT: This was more than a freak occurrence especially during spring and fall migration.
Ms. MILLER: One of our worst days, we actually had 15 injured or dead birds, about seven of them dead, eight injured. So it's a daily occurrence, absolutely.
ELLIOT: Now Miller was not a birder. For her, migration meant Canadian geese flying north or south in a V. But she admits to being an animal lover and couldn't standby as these birds flew into her building. She made some calls and got in touch with a group of ardent volunteers who call themselves the Bird Collision Monitors of Chicago.
Ms. MILLER: Basically, the program, they have monitors that go out very early in the morning and collect the birds that they find and then there's numerous trips throughout the day to local wildlife rehabilitation places. So people can call them and they'll pick up the bird and hopefully get it the help they need.
ELLIOT: The Bird Collision Monitors also teach building managers like Miller why their high rises are obstacles. By day, the birds have trouble seeing windows. They either appear transparent or reflect the sky or a nearby tree that the bird then tries to aim for. But these buildings pose a threat at night as well.
Ms. MILLER: And then even the lights on top of buildings, which there are a lot in Chicago. There are some, sort of, antenna, there are some, sort of, display - really it just seems to confuse the birds' navigation system and they just circle and circle. They can't quite find their way out of this whole city with all the lights. There's no direct path for them.
ELLIOT: Building managers like Lea Miller have begun preparation for fall migration. And Miller is urging tenants to turn off the lights when they leave. But if she does find the occasional injured bird, she'll take them in and try to nurse them back to health.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.