The other day, I received my postcard reward for supporting Lynne Parks’ Kickstarter project. A couple of people told me about Lynne Parks’ photography depicting migratory birds that have had fatal collisions with buildings. I’m so glad they did, because the artist is based in Baltimore, where I went to college and where I was returning for the national SPE conference this past spring, and I was able to see these photographs as a part of the Baker Artist Awards exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Like the work of Miranda Brandon, whose Impact pictures I shared recently, Parks’ photos bring attention to the results of building design that is antithetical to one of nature’s great movements, migration patterns. Parks volunteers for Lights Out Baltimore, an organization that seeks to raise awareness about the issue of birds crashing into buildings. She explains that birds migrate at night, orienting in part by constellations, and light pollution disorients and attracts them. They are pulled into cities full of imperceptible glass with tragic results.

From the artist’s statement: The statistics are staggering. As many as a billion birds die each year from building collisions. I deliberately chose to make portraits of the fatalities in order to highlight individual losses and value. They each tell a very specific story since we always log the address where they are found. I also photographed these specific locations to show the deadly factors. Large panes of glass are killers. Owing to the physiology of the avian brain, they either perceive a clear pathway or a reflective surface appears real. Birds are flying toward shelter and food in landscaped greenery. They find themselves in mazes of invisible barriers. We need to carefully assess the placement of trees and shrubs.

I hope that my LOB project inspires new design. It’s a matter of turning lights off, facing them downwards, creating innovative and beautiful bird-friendly design, and being considerate of migration pathways. We can’t prevent every death, but we can mitigate the losses. Birds will always grace our art, myths, and symbols, but I hope they continue in their own right.

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