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Is the Salesforce Tower dangerous for birds and other wildlife?

Flickr user rulenumberone2, used under CC BY 2.0 / cropped
Salesforce Tower

Listener Chris Macintosh wanted to know: How will the SalesForce Tower affect birds and other animals? But as KALW’s Sara Harrison found out, the answer isn’t clear.
Birds don’t like tall buildings. The lights confuse them, they don’t register that glass is something to avoid, and they end up crashing right into the buildings and die. So when plans for the Salesforce Tower came out, Noreen Weeden at Golden Gate Audubon Society was worried.

“San Francisco is in the midst of the Pacific Flyway, which is a major migratory route for birds,” she said. “Each year, many species pass through the Bay Area.”

No one is sure how they will respond to the city’s newest skyscraper. Especially because it has a giant light sculpture on top of it. The sculpture has thousands of LEDs that project videos into the building. That light is then reflected in the air. On a clear night, it’s visible 20 miles away.

“The tower is unique, and we do not know whether it will have an effect,” said Weeden.

Now, Golden Gate Audubon is asking for help. During the fall migration, from mid-August until the end of November, it needs volunteers to go out early in the morning and take a tally of what it calls “Bird Building Collision Victims.”

Hopefully, that data will give us our answer and help the city understand the building’s impact on wildlife a little better too.

To get involved with the effort to study the Salesforce tower and its effect on birds, you can contact the Golden Gate Audubon Society by emailing volunteer@goldengateaudubon.org.