Chicago Bird Collision Monitors seeking volunteers for migration season


Kolton Turner, Chicago Bird Collison Monitors

The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) is seeking volunteers to walk routes in search of injured birds that may have flown into the city’s tall downtown buildings.

The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) is seeking volunteers to walk routes in search of injured birds that may have flown into the city’s tall downtown buildings.

CBCM is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 with the goal of rescuing birds that were injured or stunned from flying into buildings. These affected birds may not be able to protect themselves from civilians walking downtown and incoming automobile traffic. 

Volunteers are needed to search for injured birds on downtown routes during the early morning hours, as this is when birds are most likely to be found. 

“[Once the birds are found, they] are cared for by the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn,” said Annette Prince, director of CBCM. “They are evaluated for injuries by wildlife professionals and veterinarians.”

According to Prince, birds are evaluated for head trauma, motor impairments, fractures and eye damage. If the birds only sustained a mild concussion from flying into glass, they are often able to be released in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, not every bird can be found in time and volunteers often collect dead birds. These dead birds are then donated to the Chicago Field Museum for research purposes. Nearly 60 percent of birds found are dead while the remaining 40 percent are injured and able to be rehabilitated. 

“Donations of dead birds help our scientists highlight how essential long-term data sets are for identifying and analyzing trends caused by our environmental changes,” Chicago Filed Museum Public Relations Specialist Dulce Hernandez said.

CBCM not only rescues the birds but also educates civilians and advocates for birds. 

“We can do our part to educate and advocate for bird-friendly building and lighting designs while rescuing those birds injured in our urban area and thereby protect the global environment that we rely on and which these birds are a critical part of,” Prince said.

“Birds fly into glass on buildings that [are] either transparent or reflective,” Prince continued. “They cannot tell there is a surface to avoid when glass is clear because it appears to be an open space they can fly through. When glass is reflective or mirror-like, birds see reflections of sky or trees that they think they can fly towards.”

Volunteers have to complete an initial orientation event followed by an in-person training session to learn about proper protocols and bird rescue procedures. After the initial training is done, the commitment is to complete one walking monitor a week for the duration of the 14-week migration season. 

“Helping birds along their remarkable migratory journeys is a rewarding experience that feels like a great privilege,” Prince said.

The CBCM website lists the spring migration training dates. For more information, CBCM can be reached at [email protected].