9/11 glowing tribute bamboozles, kills 160,000 birds

Washington: Two soaring beams of light are put out every year over Lower Manhattan on 9/11 in a tribute to those killed 18 years ago in one of the deadliest attacks on the American soil. However, researchers have said that those beams of light can lure birds to veer off their normal migratory flights. Some 160,000 birds, which are drawn to the immense light along with insects and bats, encircle these beams, seemingly unable to veer away, and are pulled off course, putting them at risk of exhaustion or disorientation, The New York Times reported. The anniversary of the September 11 attacks coincides with the migration period of birds across the New York City as fall approaches. But the convergence shares a stark reality of the situation which illustrates the perils of humans and animals sharing an urban ecosystem.

The birds such as small songbirds like Canada and yellow warblers and American redstarts and nighthawks come closer to the beams to prey on insects, and peregrine falcons. When the number of trapped birds reaches around 1,000, the lights are switched off for 20 minutes to let the birds disperse. "It's very solemn," said Susan Elbin, an ornithologist and the director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon, a US-based advocacy group. "The lights just sort of appear in the darkness and go on forever"-- four miles up -- "and when the sun rises the next morning it just disappears," she said. But according to radar studies by Elbin and other scientists, the 20-minute breaks are enough to allow birds to resume their migration.

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