More Than 300 Chimney Swifts Crash Into NASCAR Museum
It’s still a mystery as to why a flock of 310 chimney swifts flew into the NASCA Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, but about two-thirds of the birds are expected to recover.
According to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, 102 birds were stunned after flying into the plate glass window, and quickly recovered enough to fly away. A further 103 suffered from “broken wings, legs or other fractures,” the animal rescue agency said.
As the Charlotte Observer reports, the rest of the birds, totaling more than 100, died in the event, or were euthanized for serious injuries.
A woman named Holl Belle originally posted a video of the birds, which flew into the museum between 10 and 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 14. After the initial crash, Belle even saw some of the birds come to their senses and begin “killing themselves again … running into different buildings.”
National Audubon Society volunteer Judy Waker told the Observer the birds flew between two glass-lined walls of the museum, and may have assumed they were headed into a chimney. Shortly after the event, members of Audubon North Carolina arrived to play a recording of chimney swift noises, hoping to divert them from the museum’s courtyard.
“Audubon volunteers have documented this a few times in North Carolina cities, but only one bird at a time – not a large-scale event like this one,” the nonprofit told McClatchy news group.
The behavior of the birds indicates they may have been looking for a place to stay for the night.
“We suspect these birds… were out past their bedtime possibly because they could not find a suitable chimney in which to roost. And lights inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame shone brightly, reflected by low cloud cover, attracting and disorienting the birds and leading to collisions,” said the Audubon North Carolina release.
Officials could find no reason to believe the birds were suffering from health issues or pose any to museum visitors.
“We welcome the opportunity to meet with representatives from The Audubon Society and learn what may be the root cause of this regrettable incident,” Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority spokeswoman Karen Brand said in a release. “The NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza is a public space that is frequented well into the night, and evening events are a critical component of the NASCAR Hall’s success. Finding a balance between operations and safety is our goal. After learning more, we are willing to evaluate potential adjustments that we hope would mitigate future occurrences.”
One of the options Audubon officials have asked museum staff to consider is turning off the building’s exterior lights at night during the chimney swift migration season.